What you need to know aboutt luffa flow­ers

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Plants With A Purpose -

Luffas have sep­a­rate male and fe­male flow­ers, both yel­low. Fe­male flow­ers are large, soli­tary and have long, bul­bous stems, while male flow­ers are in clus­ters of buds with thin stems.

• Fe­male flow­ers can ben­e­fit from hand pol­li­na­tion. This is best done in the morn­ing for smooth luffas, and in the evening for ridged luffa (their flow­ers open in the evening). To pol­li­nate, pull off a male flower and rub it gen­tly on the fe­male or use a cot­ton swab or fine paint brush to trans­fer pollen.

• Un­pol­li­nated flow­ers will fall off and pol­li­nated ones will form the start of a luffa at the base of the fe­male flower. When con­di­tions are too cold, the young fruit may drop pre­ma­turely.

• Re­move the first flow­ers and the first four lat­eral branches to in­crease fruit yield and qual­ity. Any pit­ted or dam­aged fruits should be taken off – they will not re­cover.

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