How to Grow and Care For Chayote Squash ‘Sechium edule’

How to Grow and Care For Chayote Squash ‘Sechium edule’

How to Grow and Care For Chayote Squash 'Sechium edule'

Image by marvinbla from Pixabay

Chayote (Sechium edule) is a plant that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family. Choco, mirliton, pipinola, vegetable pear, custard marrow, and choko are some of its common names. Chayote has a crisp texture and a flavour that is halfway between a cucumber and an apple and is used in a broad variety of sweet and savoury dishes. Chayote is a delicate, warm-season perennial. When the weather has warmed up, plant the whole fruit about three to four weeks after the final average frost date in April. Chayote grows best in tropical or subtropical climates where summer temperatures range from very warm to scorching. For chayote to mature, it needs 120 to 150 days without frost.

The fruit, stems, young leaves, and even the tubers are steamed or cooked and used in stews, baby food, juices, sauces, and pasta dishes. Chayote squash, which is common in Central and South American nations, was introduced into the Antilles and South America between the 18th and 19th century, with the first botanical mention occurring in 1756. The stems of chayote squash are mostly utilised for human eating, but they are also used to build hats and baskets. Squash is utilised both as food and as livestock feed in India. Growing chayote leaves have been infused to treat kidney stones, arteriosclerosis, and hypertension.

Planting Chayote Squash

Plant chayote in the spring three to four weeks after the last average frost date, when the soil temperature has reached at least 65°F (18°C). Chayote grows best in tropical or subtropical climates with warm to hot summers, such as Florida, the Gulf Coast, and California. Chayote needs 120 to 150 frost-free warm days to mature. Chayote should be grown in a container in hotter climates so that it can be taken inside when the weather cools. The stem end of a whole chayote fruit should be placed just level with the soil, 4 to 6 inches (10–15 cm) deep. Fruits or seeds should be sown 10 feet apart.

Chayote is a robust climber; before planting, install a sturdy trellis or support. Allowing ripening fruit to come into contact with dirt will cause it to deteriorate and germinate while still connected to the vine. Chayote can be cultivated in a container, but the yield will be insignificant. It is recommended to cultivate chayote in a 24-inch-deep container. Chayote is a vigorous climber, thus a trellis or support should be installed in the container at the time of planting.

Chayote Squash Care

Chayote squash are easy to cultivate as long as you have a long growing season where you reside. Follow the suggestions below for healthy plants, and remember to set up a trellis at the stage of planting to prevent disturbing tender vines once they sprout.


Chayote thrives in full sun. It will benefit from some afternoon shade in dry areas. Place your chayote vine where it will receive 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Fruits grown in broad sun have a lighter yellow-green colour, but plants cultivated in shadowed places yield deeper green fruits.

Soil and Water

Chayote thrives on fertile, well-draining soil. If necessary, add compost or aged manure to the soil and mound it into a 4 × 4 square foot rectangle to give your plants plenty of room to spread.

Chayote requires a lot of water, especially in hot weather. Water your chayote 2-3 times a week throughout the summer and less during the cooler months, depending on the natural rainfall in your area. In cool weather, a thorough watering once a week may enough. Younger chayotes will require more frequent watering as they grow.

Temperature and Humidity

Chayote squash grows natively in tropical and subtropical areas and does not tolerate cold well. Chayote needs about 30 frost-free days after flowering in order to yield fruit, despite the fact that it does well in heat and even some humidity.

Chayote is not cold hardy, but in zones 8 and higher, it can be overwintered by cutting the vines to the ground in the autumn and covering them with a heavy layer of mulch. If planted early enough in the season, chayote can also be grown as an annual in zone 7. Gardeners in colder climates can grow chayote in containers and bring them inside when temperatures drop.


Chayote squash does not require much fertiliser, and excessive nitrogen can diminish fruit yield. To produce a larger crop, fertilise your plants every six to seven weeks with a balanced or low-nitrogen fertiliser.

Pruning Chayote Squash

Following planting, allow the vine to grow 3 to 4 sets of true leaves before pinching off the top of the plant to encourage branching. In order to keep them smaller and promote more branching, vines can also be pruned as necessary throughout the growing season.

Propagating Chayote Squash

From the purchased fruit, you can cultivate a chayote plant. They are accessible in the autumn. Choose ripe, undamaged fruit. Avoid picking any that have rotted and become brown. Keep your chayote out of the sun and away from anything else that could make it mouldy. Within a few days, a tiny green branch ought to emerge from the end opposite the attached stem.

Chayote Harvesting and Storage

Harvesting time for chayote squash is in the late summer to early fall when the fruit is a vibrant green colour. Your chayote is ready to be harvested when the fruit is between 4 and 6″ long and the skin is still flexible like a bell pepper. When chayotes are left on the vine for too long, their skin becomes hard or wrinkled, and they are less enjoyable to eat.

The refrigerator can store chayote for up to a week. The shelf life of diced chayote is up to a year when frozen or canned.

Common Pests and Diseases

On plant leaves, aphids can produce deformed leaf development and leave a sticky “honeydew” buildup. Spray your plant vigorously with the garden hose to get rid of aphids on your chayote, or use an organic insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.

Squash vine borers munch on plant stems, causing entire plants to wilt and die. Use floating row covers, rotate your crops, and try growing a trap crop like Hubbard squash to ward against squash vine borers.

Stunted growth can result from powdery mildew, which deposits a powdery, white layer on plant leaves. Keep plant leaves dry by watering only at the soil line and only in the morning to avoid mildew.

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