Planting Mirlitons (Chayote or Vegetable Pear)

Robert J. Souvestre  |  3/16/2010 12:56:42 AM

Plant mirlitons with the stem end (broad end) covered with soil. In a few weeks roots will develop and a shoot will emerge and grow into the vining plant.

Plant a mirliton (vegetable pear or chayote) for a vigorous vine that will cover an arbor for shade, a wire fence or a large trellis. It’s not uncommon to see an old swing set being recycled as support for a mirliton vine. There is a belief that it takes two plants for fruit production. This is not true – one plant will produce fruit since both male and female flowers develop on the same plant.

Buy a firm, unblemished, smooth mirliton fruit (white or light green). Some retailers may have already planted some saving you the time to germinate the plant but otherwise I recommend looking for rounded fruits rather than the more heavily ribbed fruits. Rounded fruit makes preparing the vegetable much easier in the kitchen next fall. The flesh is mild but picks up other food flavors nicely. Stuffed mirlitons with beef or shrimp are a local favorite and hard to beat.

Plant the fruit in a container to germinate and develop a root system before planting outside in the yard. Keep it protected and warm so the fruit does not rot. Plant the mirliton with the pointed end upwards and the broad end buried. Plant at a 60 degree angle with half or more of the fruit covered with soil. When the vine emerges provide support for it to attach its tendrils to climb. Prevent lank growth by pruning the tip of the vine until it is planted outside in April.
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