Growing Chayote

On our morning dog walk Giovanni, one of our neighbors, kindly gave us a pair of fresh chayote off of his backyard vine which covers a trellis over his carport. Giovanni has wisely intertwined the chayote with an equally prodigious passion fruit vine making for a combo that produces many pounds of fruit all summer long.

Chayote (Sechium edule), for those not in the know, is a wonder plant of the gourd family hailing from Mexico and Central America. It has a mild slightly sweet cucumber-like taste. They can be boiled, pan fried, steamed, baked, pickled or chopped up and tossed raw in a salad. Though requiring a fair amount of water, it grows like a weed here and one vine can easily produce eighty pounds of fruit. Another mark in its favor is that Chayote is a perennial and, to top it all off, the young leaves and root are also edible and the tough stalks can be made into rope.

We started a chayote plant a few months ago by simply buying a few at our local market, letting it sprout on our counter top and then planting it in the ground. Since the fruit contains only one seed you don’t need to extract it–you plant the whole thing. They are very susceptible to rotting when first planted so that may explain why we got only one out of three to grow.

Chayote is traditionally grown up over a trellis or roof and we’re growing ours on a bare trellis that covers a deck in the back yard. We’re hoping the chayote will give us a summer of both fruit and shade!

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13 Comments

  1. I have attempted to grow 5 Chayotte Squash with no success.

    I place the Chayotte on a counter and wait for it to root with not success.

    Can some one give me some assistance?

    • The fruit need to be placed in a cool dark area until they sprout. a brown paper bag in the cupboard works fine. A shoe box would work fine. Check it every couple days. When you see the sprouting stick the fruit in a 8 inch pot…at an angle with the pointy end upwards. I should say at this point, I am in Idaho and this is how I managed to get mine to start growing early. >>> Put your pot in a plastic coffee can, so that excess moisture can drain away (and the plastic coffee can sort of creates a green house effect, warming the soil in the pot Fast!) Then use skewers or chop sticks to hold a 1 gallon ziplock bag up. Clip some heat vents so it doesn’t cook your vine and place the whole thing in a south facing or sunny window. Check moisture occasionally. The soil should be damp but not soggy. When it is getting close to time to plant it out doors or in your big patio pot… give it some day trips out side without it’s baggie.

  2. Stick it in the ground, worm bin or a compost heap. It should sprout before it begins to roots. When you see a sprout you can plant it where you want it to grow. Might be better to use one fresh off someone’s vine rather than an older store bought chayote.

  3. i am wondering if chayote can be made into a wine…
    if possible can you please tell me the exact procedure…
    thanks!!!

    • Can you make zucchini wine? The “fruit” of chayote isn’t sweet until cooked and even then the flavor in my opinion is a lot like patty pan or “scalloped Squash”

      Here’s a link to a page that has a recipe for zucchini squash wine. I think Chayote would lend itself nicely to that recipe.

  4. I live in chicago!!
    and bought two of these friuts and completely forgot about them. The wild thing is I opened the bag that I originally purchases them in and both fruits have started to root!!
    I wonder the success rate moving indoors for the winters here!

  5. Place the chayote in a cool, dark place. I placed mine in the garage on a platter. It took about 3 weeks but the chayote will start growing from one end. You do not have to bury it in soil to get it to start growing. It will do it on its own.

  6. I grow my chayote by buying a mature fruit from a grocery store. You will know if the fruit is mature when your thumb nail will not penetrate the skin anymore. Then put it on a plastic bag and keep it on a dark place. In 3 days time the roots will start to sprout. Then wait until the shoot is about an inch long and then that will be ready for planting.

  7. Chayote does best with neglect. Prepare a site in full sun near a fence or trellis. Add lots of compost and make sure drainage is good. Place a large whole chayote (big ones usually have the seed protruding out from the bottom of the fruit and are harder than the younger ones.) half burried in the soil so that it does not move. Walk away from it and do not water, fertilize or disturb it. It is best to plant when the weather is warm, the vines shrink when the weather gets cold and too much water will cause it to rot.

  8. I’m growing one and it’s gone NUTS! It’s covered my whole chicken run and is now attacking my nectarine tree and it’s going into the neighbors yard. All this from one plant. It needs months of warm weather but I think it’s beginning to flower. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever grown.

  9. Hi guy, happy to see you pop up as a front-page result when I Googled “chayote.” I was in Vietnam and totally fell in love with they way they serve chayote greens – I think flash fried and then steamed a bit, with big chunks of garlic and some lemon. So much so that I think I’ll try to grow a few just for the greens. Wish me luck! Click my name for a photo of chayote greens as served in Hue, Vietnam.

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