Growing Chayote (Choko) Vines - Flowers & Fruit



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How to Grow a Choko Vine

Three Parts:

Also known as chayote, choko is a perennial vine that produces pear-shaped, squash-like fruit. It’s easy to grow in most environments, but thrives in warm, tropical climates. To start your vines, grow a sprout from a choko fruit in the spring. After it sprouts, plant it outside in a clear spot that gets lots of sun. Keep the soil from drying out, and provide a trellis to support your vines. The vines will flower in late summer and, by early autumn, you'll be able to harvest the fruits of your labor.

Steps

Sprouting a Choko Fruit

  1. Start a sprout from a healthy, mature fruit.Choose a fruit that’s hard, green, and smooth. It should be free of wrinkles, dents, or blemishes. Larger, mature fruits are the best choice, as small, immature fruits may just rot instead of sprout.
    • If you can’t find choko fruit at a local grocery store, you could try searching online for a mail order company. Seeds are hard to separate from the fruit and aren’t often sold on their own, but you might be able to track some down online.
  2. Place the fruit on its side in a soil-filled container.Fill a gallon-sized (about 4 liters) container with potting soil, and make a little hole in the soil for the fruit. Place the fruit on its side in the soil so the tip of the stem points at a 45 degree angle. Cover the fruit with soil, but make sure the tip of the stem still shows.
  3. Keep the container in warm, dry place.Find a dark place with good ventilation to store the fruit until it sprouts. If possible, keep the temperature between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (about 27 to 29 degrees Celsius). Water it occasionally, or when the soil completely dries out. The sprout should emerge in about one month.
    • A pantry, under the sink, or a closet (with the door cracked) are all good spots to sprout your fruit.

Planting the Sprout

  1. Plant your sprout when there’s no threat of frost.When the sprout is about 5 to 7 centimeters (2 to 2.75 inches) in length and has three to four sets of leaves, it’s ready to be transplanted outside. Choko vines are frost tender, so plant your sprout outdoors in the spring three to four weeks after the last frost.  
  2. Choose a well-lit spot in your garden with plenty of space.Choko vines love lots of sun. While they can grow in partial shade, less sun will result in a smaller harvest. They can grow aggressively, so make sure you give your vines plenty of space.
    • Once the roots are mature, a perennial choko vine can grow at least 30 feet (almost 10 meters) in a single season!
    • If you live in a hot, arid climate, it’s wise to offer your vines some protection from the fierce afternoon sun and drying winds. Look for a spot in your yard that gets plenty of light in the morning, but becomes more shaded later in the day, when the sun is more intense.
  3. Fertilize your planting site.Turn the soil at a 4 by 4 foot (about 1.25 by 1.25 meters) planting site with a garden tiller or shovel. Mix 20 pounds (about 9 kilograms) of manure with the soil. If you have poor draining soil, such as heavy clay, add mature, well-rotted compost to improve drainage and aeration.
  4. Transplant your choko sprout.Dig a hole 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) deep. Carefully remove the sprouting fruit from the container and bury it in the hole. Cover the fruit with soil, but leave the sprout above ground level.
    • Water the sprout well after transplanting it.

Caring for Your Choko Vine

  1. Provide a wooden trellis or fence to support your vines.When it matures, your choko will grow into a heavy mass of vines. Place a strong trellis or other support next to your sprout, and hammer its stakes deep into the ground so it doesn’t topple once the vines become heavy.
    • You could also choose a planting site next to a sturdy fence to support your vines.
    • Avoid using a metal support, which can get too hot and damage the vines.
  2. Keep the soil from drying out completely.If you don’t get a lot of rain, keep the soil from drying out and water it regularly.When vines don’t receive enough water, they produce stringy fruit. If you do get lots of rain, add compost every month to maintain an intact top layer.
  3. Train the vines to grow on the support.The vines will start to grow wildly, so you’ll need to train them to grab onto the trellis or fence. Wrap loose vines around the support’s bars regularly to keep them from spreading everywhere.
  4. Harvest the first crop in autumn.After 120 to 150 days, or by the late summer and early autumn, the vines will start to flower and produce fruit. Cut fruit from vines with a knife or pruner before the skin gets too hard. Mature fruit are between 4 and 6 inches (10 and 15 centimeters) in length.
  5. Cut back the vines and add a thick layer of mulch before winter.In temperate climates, cut back the vines to three or four short shoots after the fruiting season. If you live in a frost-prone climate, cut the vines to just above ground level. Cover the planting site with 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) of mulch or pine straw to protect the roots during the winter.
    • Since it’s a perennial, choko will grow back from its roots in the spring.

Community Q&A

Search
  • Question
    Is every climate is suited for these?

    Horticulturist
    Lauren Kurtz is a Horticulturist in Colorado. She has worked as a horticulture specialist for the City of Aurora, Water Conservation Department since 2019.
    Horticulturist
    Expert Answer
    No. This plant is perennial hardy in zones 8-11. This plant needs a warm climate to survive as a perennial.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Do I need bees to get fruit?
    Top Answerer
    Blossoms must be pollinated to produce fruit. Either wind or insects will cause pollination.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How much can we trim it back by in Spring? This is to keep the vine under control before any fruit starts to develop.
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    After fruiting season, cut back the vines by 80 to 90 percent. During the growing season, try not to trim too much at one time to avoid stressing the plant and killing your harvest. Trimming during cooler times of the day and watering after pruning are helpful. To keep it under control and encourage flowering, you can regularly pinch the growing tips off (from about 200 mm to the end of the vine's tip). These are edible and delicious steamed.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    My 2 year old choko vine has borne 1 choko only. Is this usual?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It should be producing more than just one fruit. Make sure it gets plenty of sun, and consider transplanting it to a sunnier spot. Also, they have a long growing season - 120 to 150 days. If you live somewhere with a short summer, you might have better luck growing it inside. However, it probably won't have a huge harvest if it's container-grown, either.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Which pests attack choko?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Choko doesn't have many pest problems. You might have issues with aphids, but ladybugs and a good spray with the hose can handle them.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    My vine is 6 months old very healthy appears to grow many small (maybe) fruit which do not mature they just drop off, gets sun all morning and late afternoon, how can I get the fruit to mature?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Temperature might be the issue - if nights are too hot the yield could be affected. However, if temperatures drop below 65 you could also see harvest issues. And, of course, any frosts or unusually cold temperatures will kill your yield altogether. If you have temperature issues, you might have to wait to see how your yield is next year.
    Thanks!
Unanswered Questions
  • What can I do if my vine has a lot of flowers, but is not bearing fruit?
  • How long will a vine last?
  • Our vine has lots of blossoms but when fruit is just appearing they disappear. There seems to be snapped off stems, but no damage to rest of vine.
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Date: 06.12.2018, 18:12 / Views: 64172