Growing Choko/Chayote, also Chayote squash, christophene, chouchou, mirliton

Sechium edule : Cucurbitaceae / the gourd family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec

Not recommended for growing in USA - Zone 5a regions

  • Easy to grow. Plant whole mature fruit when one produces a shoot at one end.. Best planted at soil temperatures between 15°C and 30°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 100 cm apart
  • Harvest in 17-25 weeks. Best when fruit is light green and not more than 6 cm long.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Cucumbers
  • Choko (cayote) on vine

Choko is only suitable for warmer climates but frequent hot nights will slow flowering. Fruit production is highest when night temperatures range from 59 - 68 F (15 - 20 C). Plant in a warm, unused corner of the garden. Leave the shoot sticking out of the ground and it will take off. Choko needs a long growing season, about 4 - 6 months but in that time it will spread and can be useful to cover old sheds or fences!

An average household would need one or two plants.

Leaves rather like cucumber and some prickles on the fruit. Some variation in fruit, with lighter green and few prickles depending on variety. The differences seem to be between countries eg. USA, Australia, Malta.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Choko/Chayote

Chokos can be peeled and chopped to use in stews, soup or as a stir fry vegetable.
Cooked or raw, it has a very mild flavour and is commonly served with seasonings eg. salt, butter and pepper or in a dish with other vegetables and/or flavourings. It can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed or pickled.

Your comments and tips

19 Dec 11, TRUDY (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Hi Can anyone give me a recipe for choko pie as a desert. I have chokos growing madly on my vine and i am trying to think of different way to cook these great veges. Thanks Trudy
29 Mar 12, Catherine (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi Trudy, Yes the much maligned Choko. I love the look of the plant, it's lush, no effort gardening AND you get fruit. I have it growing over up to the top storey of a inner city terrace. It screens the street off and makes for a very Mediterranean like view from my window. The only maintenance is the occasional clip to stop it 'decorating' the neighbours terrace as well. I have the same abundance of crop - try this one: Choko Chocolate Cake. Doesn't use many chokos but you can shock your guests after all the ohh and ahhing but revealing what the secret ingredient is. The choko gives it a fibre texture a bit like banana bread it makes for a very yummy cake. I can't post the website here but in the recipes section of the website 'Successful Gardening with Annette McFarlane', is the Chocolate Cake recipe along with others for Chokos. They also have other unusual fruit too - I can also recommend the LillyPilly Jam! Have fun. :) Cat
21 Apr 12, Sandra (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi Catherine, thanks for the tip re the choko chocolate cake. I have had a look at it and noticed sugar is mentioned twice ie 1 1/2 cups and then later 1 cup. Is this a miss print? it just seems like a lot of sugar for 125g of butter. cheers, Sandra
05 Apr 14, jeanette (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
what is the food value of this plant?
14 Jul 15, James Ito (USA - Zone 9a climate)
Does the sprouting chayote need to be containerized 1ST or can it go directly into the Soil?
25 Nov 21, Melinda (USA - Zone 8a climate)
Plant the whole fruit in a place where a massive amount of leafy vines can trellis up and over (we plant this in May here)... even a bottomless 18" deep drum full of compost/well drained rich soil will work quite well but definitely plant it once and let it go. It harvests here quite heavily right at fall and puts on massive leafy vines with MANY fruit from only one single squash planted. It is quite nice to have for a summer tasting versatile squash that is a heavy producer in the fall after zucchini and yellow crookneck are long gone from squash bug damage.
29 Apr 17, danny (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
what causes the the leaves to go powder like and kills the vine on the choko
30 Apr 17, Jack (Australia - temperate climate)
The white powdery coating on the leaves of your choko is an indicator of powdery mildew. This fungus affects many crops in late summer and autumn. Chokos, pumpkins, zucchinis and cucumber being some of the worst affected. Good air circulation and watering at the root rather than overhead is good insurance against this problem. I know of people who make a spray of 10% milk in water as an effective control. Alternatively you could spray the plant with a fungicide spray.
21 Dec 18, Karen M. (USA - Zone 5b climate)
I read about this vegetable/ fruit on another website and was wondering how I can find it to grow here in NE Indiana.
15 Oct 23, dz (USA - Zone 10a climate)
my wife brought home a couple of Chayote that had started sprouting tiny roots out the bottom, so I researched and found that you can carefully split the fruit in half and retrieve the seed, you do not need to plant the entire fruit, but you must be very careful splitting the chayote because the seed is soft, not hard like an avocado or mango, and easily damaged when splitting the fruit. Then I planted them in small starter containers in the kitchen window, and after a few weeks when the shoots had gotten about 2 inches tall, I transplanted them outside into a 5-gallon bucket with a heavy-duty tomato cage as a trellis. A few weeks later one had been eaten by pests and died, but the other is growing and about 6 inches tall. I know this is the wrong timing for growing chayote, but since the seeds had already sprouted roots, I wanted to see what I could do with them. If the one remaining vine survives the winter here in Zone 10A, like my tomatoes and eggplants usually do, maybe it will flower and fruit next year. If a seed package or even a very reputable web site like Gardenate posts a recommended panting time, and your circumstances don't match that recommended timing, try it anyway, you never know what the results might be unless you try. I'll plant potatoes year-round whenever I have any potatoes sprouting slips. I may only get a few baby potatoes when panted "out of season", but it was either try to grow the sprouts or add them to the compost bin. I also grow garlic in Zone 10A even though it is recommended not to. They are smaller than if grown in better climates, but small garlic is better than no garlic, it still tastes great, just use two cloves instead of one.

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