If you’ve ever seen or grown chayote, you know that it looks very similar to a pear. But it’s actually a squash with a rich nutty flavor loved by millions across the world. Sprouting and growing chayote is a rewarding gardening adventure—if you know what you’re doing.
How To Grow Chayote
There are various opinions on how to grow chayote. We’ve taken the best, most proven methods and crammed them into this short written tutorial. It’s a lot easier than you may have been led to believe!
From my own experience, growing this delicious fruit is super rewarding, which is why I’m so determined to share it with you. So if it’s a checklist of successful chayote growing methods you’re looking for, then read on.
What You Need To Know Before You Grow Chayote
The growing conditions for chayote are quite specific. But there’s no reason why you can’t grow it in your home country, despite any challenging weather conditions.
If you want to know the secret of how to grow chayote: it’s all about timing. In addition to some timing tips, remember the following before you begin the sprouting process:
- As with most squash varieties, chayote requires a frost free climate to grow.
- For best results, sprout & grow your chayote plant in composted, well-drained gardening soil.
- Remember that chayote is a creeper. Make sure you have a growing space fit for a vine. Chayote prefers to grow up against a supporting structure such as a trellis, or hanging down from a roof trellis (similar to grapes).
- Full sun is needed for chayote to thrive, so ensure that your vine growing space is exposed to at least 6-8 hours of full sun.
- Prepare for a growing period of approximately four to five months, as this is the time needed for chayote to reach its full ripening stage.
- Chayote likes to be in damp soil. However, over watering the plant will cause root rot, a condition that chayote is particularly susceptible to.
- While it’s fine to sprout your chayote in a pot, it’s best to transplant it into a large area where the roots can dig deep into the ground. Growing chayote in a pot will prohibit the yield from reaching its full potential.
Now that you have an idea of what conditions chayote prefers, you can begin to prepare your growing area. In a nutshell, remember three keys to successful preparation:
- Root & vine space
- Decent soil
- Favorable climate
Now let’s look at a step-by-step tutorial of how to grow chayote.
From Sprouting To Harvest:
1. Sprouting In A Container
- A chayote fruit that has naturally fallen from its vine onto the ground will begin to sprout without any human intervention. Growing a chayote vine is best done from the fruit, so simply take the whole squash, bury it upside down in a well composted container, and place it on a sunny window sill.
- Be sure to do this about a week after the last frost, as this will set you up for the perfect timing when it comes time for planting. Within a few days, you will begin to see a stem and leaves sprouting from the bottom of the fruit. When the stem is about three inches long, it’s time to plant!
2. Clever Transplanting
- You can now transplant the sprouted fruit with the surrounding soil into your growing area. Make sure it’s centralized to ensure optimal growing space. If you’re transplanting more than one chayote, make sure they are well spaced out (at least 15 inches apart).
3. Soil Conditions & Watering
- Chayote doesn’t like dry soil. Make sure you water your plants once a week in moderately warm weather. In hot & dry weather, water at least twice to three times a week. Remember not to overwater though, as root rot will occur. If the soil is damp within an inch into the ground, your chayote is happy.
4. Helping Your Chayote Spread
- As chayote grows, feel free to assist it in the direction you want it to creep. Be gentle when handling the vine as the stems can break easily. If necessary, use string to lightly fasten the stems to your trellis.
5. Fruit & Harvest Time
- Within about 90 days you will start to see fruit forming on your chayote vine. It will then take an additional 30 – 45 days for these to reach their full harvesting size which is the approximate size of a large pear. Don’t leave chayote fruit on the vine too long after it’s ready, as the flesh will begin to harden.
6. How To Harvest Your Chayote
- To harvest, simply cut at the stem about half an inch from the base of the fruit. It’s always best to cook & eat your chayote immediately after harvesting, but you can also keep it in the fridge for about a week post harvest.
Time To Start Your Own Chayote Journey
- Did you find this tutorial easy enough to follow? If you can get the timing right, there’s really nothing complicated about growing this delicious squash. When it comes to timing, think further than when you sprout.
- Also take into account when to transplant, when to water and when to harvest. If you are patient and gentle with your chayote plant, it will yield enough fruit for a family of four. That’s from only one plant!
- Now that you know how to grow chayote in your backyard, it’s time to search for some recipes. While it’s traditionally a savory dish food, chayote can also be transformed into a delicious range of desserts.
- When cooked, the flesh on the inside of the chayote fruit is soft & moist. The flavor is nutty, making it an extremely versatile food to cook with. The leaves and root of the chayote are also edible, and make excellent additions to stews, soups & casseroles.
- Utilize the plant to its full potential and remember to keep a few fruits aside for growing again next year. Enjoy!