Dr. Joe Masabni
Department of Horticulture
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Also known as the vegetable pear or the mirliton, this vegetable is a member of the cucurbit family. Fruits, which are light green and pear shaped, are produced on vigorous growing vines that are cold sensitive.
The entire fruit is planted in the spring after all danger of frost. Space plants at least 8 to 10 feet apart. Trellis the vine to provide support for maximum production. Avoid heavy fertilization for excessive vine growth reduces yields. As with all cucurbits, male and female flowers are borne on the same plant requiring bees for pollination.
Fruit should be firm and free of bruises and other damage. For eating purposes, avoid fruit that has started to germinate as evidenced by the emergence of the young seedling from the broad end of the fruit. Like all cucurbits, chayotes shrivel badly if stored under dry conditions regardless of temperature. Place in container or plastic bag before refrigeration to maintain high humidity conditions. Ideal storage conditions are about 50° to 59°F. and 90 percent humidity. Chayotes undergo chilling injury below 50°F.