Christophine or Chayote: planting cultivation maintenance harvest

Chayote (or Chayote) is cultivated for its eponymous pear-shaped fruit, fleshy and edible, whose appearance evokes quince or even a very large bumpy pear. It’s a core berry which measures at least 10 to 12 cm long. Chayote is a plant of the family of Cucurbits, originally from Mexico. This perennial, called Christophine because it was brought to the West Indies by Christopher Columbus, has a stem that can also be eaten. As for its root, it is cooked like fries. Here are the tips to follow for planting and maintaining Chayote, named according to the regions of the world sousou, mirliton, choko, chouchoute or even chouchou.

Planting Christophine or Chayote

The Chayote (Sechium for success) love them cool soils, furniture, deep et rich in manure. She mainly enjoys sunny exposure et sheltered from prevailing winds.

This exotic vine of a beautiful vigor particularly appreciates hot climates. In excellent growing conditions, she can produce stems that reach 5 to 6 meters in a few months. We can therefore cultivate Chayote for its fruits but also for the shade it creates very quickly.

However, beware of extremes in terms of temperature. From 28°C, the flowers fall and this can also concern fruits that have already formed but are far from having reached full maturity. At the same time, high temperatures considerably promote the growth of leaves and creeper stems. This can be a bias if you only want to grow Christophine to vegetate a south-facing terrace and you are completely uninterested in its fruits.

germinate the fruit of Chayote from the end of winter, by installing it in a pot containing a very humus-rich substrate which must also cover the fruit to a thickness of 10 to 12 cm. We keep the pot indoors near a bay window, a large window or even in a veranda or greenhouse. Light is essential, as is heat and regular watering.

The full planting terre Chayote or Christophine fruit after germination takes place as soon as the risk of frost is no longer to be feared. It is advisable to miss the ice saints, that is to say on May 11, 12 and 13. It is therefore directly the fruit that we plant, pointing towards the sky. It does not need to be peeled or pitted.

This plant is able to climb along a pergola installed on a sunny terrace, or any other support such as a fence, trellis, commercial or homemade, which it is essential to install as soon as planting in order to that the plant can cling to it thanks to its tendrils. It is indeed a climber that quickly gains momentum.

Sous we latitudes, the Chayote grow in the ground as an annual or in pots more like a perennial. In the latter case, it can be winterized and then taken out on sunny days, a ritual that can then be repeated from year to year. People who do not have a garden but only a balcony can therefore rejoice. For a potted cultureyou just have to respect the following points:

  • Water it very regularly because the substrate in a container dries more quickly than the soil of a vegetable garden,
  • Install a mulch to a thickness of at least 6 cm in order to limit the evaporation process. Thus, the soil or the substrate retains a good freshness absolutely essential to this climbing plant with twining lianas.

Of course, we take care to put stakes in the tray to allow the Christophine to climb.

Caring for a christophine

It is quite possible to leave the stump of a Chouchou in the ground even during the winter as long as you take care to protect it well from the cold with a thick mulch (10 to 12 cm) associated, why not, with a winter sail.


Watering should be sufficient copious, and even more to compensate for high summer heat such as periods of drought. Chayote is a water greedy.


Above all, we do not hesitate to make a addition of compost during the growing season. But at the time of planting, each foot of Chayote needs 2.8 to 3.2 kg of compost.


This only concerns specimens that you want to grow in pots, on the balcony or terrace. After the germination of the fruit, do not hesitate to transplant each plant into a big enough tankwith a capacity of at least 15 to 18 litres.


This twining plant cannot be pruned.

Protect from the cold

In many of our regions, the aerial parts of the Chayote – not very hardy plant – freeze as soon as first frost. It is not extremely serious as long as we have anticipated by protecting the roots of the plant sufficiently early. Well sheltered under a thick mulch of 15 cm if necessary, they are unlikely to succumb to -6 or -7°C, provided that it is not daily. But if you fear that the Christophine will not stand the harshness of the local climate, it is better to take the plant out of the open ground to overwinter it indoors, in a pot containing potting soil that is kept moist.

Just wait for the return of spring to reinstall the Chayote in the garden after having fertilized the soil well.

Parasites maladies

It is really interesting to cultivate famous mirlitons since they are not sensitive to pests or diseases. They don’t fear so nothingwhich dispenses with having to deal at all costs.

Harvest Chayote

If you take care of your plants, a single plant can produce at least 40 to 50 fruits, even 80 after a few years, the average weight of which per unit is all the same 750 g (knowing that a chayote can weigh 2 kg)! The harvest of the fruits of the Christophine must be done at the right time. It takes place at the very end of October or early November (sometimes in September). Curiously enough in France, this fruit is appreciated for its good taste of zucchini.

Judging its maturity is quite easy: all you have to do is exert moderate pressure on the fruit with a fingernail without this being able to mark the skin. In other words, when his skin is thick enoughChayote can be picked.

It is more fundamental toharvest before the first fall frosts because this exotic plant is chilly. The flesh of the fruit spoils as soon as the temperatures drop. It is therefore necessary to put the product of its harvest under cover before the mercury passes into the negatives.

However, there is no point in rushing because picked too early, chayotes have soft flesh and it is impossible to keep them for long. It is also not desirable to miss the boat because you risk not appreciating the consistency of their overripe flesh or, moreover, the fact that it has become stringy.

However, in certain French regions in the harsh climateit is absolutely necessary to harvest it all at once, even if the fruits have not all reached a perfect degree of ripeness. In this case, it is necessary to organize its consumption by starting with the less ripe ones which will not keep long. Those that have matured to perfection and are not damaged will keep for several monthsas is the case with many other cucurbits, in a clean, dry room where the ambient temperature is stable, around 10°C.

At harvest time, do not hesitate to put a few chayotes asidein order to dedicate them for planting the following spring. It is the kernel that will draw nutrients from the flesh, its germination taking place within the fruit itself. A chayote can therefore be planted as it is in May, when the spring sun has already warmed the ground well.

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