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How to Grow Goji Berry Plants

The Lycium barbarum variety of Gogi Berry Plants are a perennial in zones 3 to 10, they are actually quite remarkably heat and cold tolerant. Goji plants are also deciduous, which just means that they drop their leaves every year, usually once the first frost hits.

Goji Berry plants are very adaptable, but for the very best results, test your soil, and then adjust the pH to between 6.8 – 8.1. You can add lime to raise the pH if necessary or aluminum sulfate to lower it.

GROW GOJI BERRY PLANTS IN CONTAINERS

Gogi Berry plants can easily be grown in containers on your deck or patio. Goji plant roots like to grow deep, but the plant itself will stop growing once the roots touch the bottom of the container, so they won’t grow as large as the plants grow in the ground. One advantage is that you may very well see goji berries in the first or second season, rather than the third, which is normally the case when they are grown in the ground.

So you’ve received your bare root plants. They will survive for awhile without being planted, but we recommend that you plant them as soon as possible. We also suggest that you get them established inside, in a sunny location, before moving them outside, also to a sunny location. Your Goji plant will appreciate some afternoon shade if you live in a very hot climate (Temps above 100°F).

  • Place the bare root plants in a jar or container with room-temperature water and allow them to soak for about 15-minutes.
  • Prepare your container. We recommend a container at least as deep as a five-gallon bucket, but it does not have to be wide. Your container or pot should have drainage holes in the bottom (if it doesn’t—make some), so you may also want to provide a drain pan for the container to sit in.
  • Mix about 1/3 sand to 2/3 soil in order to provide the best growing medium and drainage, though any good potting soil will work. In hot, dry areas, we recommend Premier Pro-Mix Ultimate Container Mix. Fill the container, leaving 2 to 3-inches at the top.
  • Dig a hole in the middle of the container a couple of inches deeper than to the crown of the plant (where the roots meet the stem), pushing loose soil back in until with the roots lightly resting on the soil in the hole, the crown is level with the top of the soil.
  • Push the soil back in, filling around the roots and up to the crown, gently tamping as you go.
  • Water well and push more soil around the plant if necessary, watering again to let the soil settle.
  • You should continue to keep your Goji plant moist, but not overly wet, until you see new growth sprouting, usually in about 2-weeks.
  • Apply an inch or two of mulch in order to help with moisture retention (and because it looks nice). If you mulch, you will depend upon touch to check soil moisture, or water into a large reservoir under the planter so it is wicked from the bottom up.

You may see flowers, after which fruit will follow, the first season, depending upon when you plant; but more than likely it will be the second season. Remember that containerized plants will feel the heat and cold more because their roots are in soil above the ground. Be weather-aware, providing adequate moisture when it is extremely hot and dry, as containerized plants will usually dry out quicker and in order to provide protection for your plant if the temperatures become really cold.

GROW GOJI BERRY PLANTS IN THE GROUND

You can grow Goji Berry plants in the ground in any relatively sunny location, as long as you have room for expansion. Adult Goji plants can grow up to 8-feet high and wide, though some gardeners prune their Goji plants to keep them within a desired size range. You can even grow Gogi bushes as a hedge or you can train them to a trellis, in which case, they can get as tall as 10-feet.

To make this really simple and to give your Goji Berry Plant the best start, we recommend that you start it in a container, though you don’t need a 5-gallon size. In fact, you can buy a 4 to 6-inch peat pot and not even have to worry about taking it back out of the pot to transplant it. This will greatly reduce the stress involved with transplanting, further ensuring your Goji plant will thrive. If you are starting it in a container, you just follow steps 1 through 7 above, at which point you can transplant your Goji plant into the ground. Goji plants growing in the ground will sometimes start to produce fruit the second season, but will not go into full production until the third year.

If you are putting it directly into the ground:

  • Choose a sunny site if you live anywhere but in the desert southwest, where you will either want to have shade or be able to put up a shade cloth during the hottest part of the day.
  • Follow step 1 above, and then prepare your soil, testing and amending it if needed.
  • Skip to step 4, and continue through step 8 above, applying mulch immediately, rather than waiting, and carefully monitoring soil moisture. It is critical that it not be allowed to dry out until you see new growth start to sprout, usually in about two weeks.

PRUNING YOUR GOJI BERRY PLANTS

Pruning is normally done in the winter, but they can also be gently trimmed throughout the season to shape the canopy and to improve berry yield.

You will not want to prune them heavily the first year. Identify the largest, healthy shoot, which will be the main trunk. Gradually remove the lower lateral shoots, with the goal in mind of keeping the trunk clear for the first 15-inches, and then when your Goji plant reaches 24-inches , remove the growing tip in order to stimulate the growth of additional side branches.

To prune adult plants, you just remove the branches above the height that you wish to keep. You should maintain clearance from the ground up of about 15-inches. You can also identify any ineffective branches. These usually grow very fast, straight and smooth and will not be very productive, so if they aren’t essential to the overall look, they can simply be removed. Remember that Goji Berry plants grow similar to a weeping willow. If allowed to grow un-pruned you can end up with a mighty ugly plant, though “ugly” is only in the eye of the beholder, and you may thoroughly enjoy this natural look. You should always prune the plant after a heavy berry season as berries are produced on new growth only.

We hope that this has helped you to understand the needs of the Goji Berry Plant. To help your prepare this amazingly healthy superfood, we have discovered a cookbook, written by Dr. Donald R. Daugs, Goji and Wolfberry, Superfood Cook Book for Health, Flavor and Fun, filled with illustrations and 93 recipes for everything from breakfast to main dishes and including a chapter on appetizers!

We have not mentioned fertilizer, because it is not absolutely necessary, but every plant will benefit from some type of regular feeding. We recommend Jobe’s continuous-release drip feeders or spikes.

Once the average daytime temperature drops below 50 degrees, your goji plant will start going into dormancy. It will stay dormant until the spring time temps are up above 50 degrees. If you live in an area that does not get that cold, keeping your plant pruned back to new growth is the key to keeping the berries coming.

We wish you great success and good health! Happy Gardening!

98 Responses to “How to Grow Goji Berry Plants”

  1. Manny G. says:

    Bought a 2 ft plant about 6 weeks ago, transplanted it into a 6 gallon pot using Humboldt Earth mix which includes bat guano. Last week noticed 1 flower on it should I be expecting more following fruit there after? Also are the new shoots growing from the root potential new plants, they keep popping up and I keep clipping them? Thanks. Chino, CA.

  2. Pam says:

    I have small place but what is the best way the goji berry? I can grow in the ground but very limited space. Should I ground in a contained?

  3. jstutzman says:

    Pam, if your space is small, I would recommend a container for your Goji Berry. You will just have to make sure your container is about the size of a 5 gallon bucket.

  4. jstutzman says:

    Manny, you will not get much flowers or fruits the first year. The second year will bring more, and by the third, the Goji Berry plant will be fully producing berries. Yes keep the new shoots clipped off unless you want it to spread. Enjoy your plant.

  5. Melissa says:

    My goji is3yrs old, and is huge already for this time of year. It’s flowering with berries starting. Can I divide it, like a normal plant?

  6. TD Clark says:

    I moved over the winter to CT from NC and brought my potted goji berry plants with me. They have yet to do anything this year and I was wondering how I could determine if they died over the winter or if they are just dormant.

    Thanks for any suggestions

  7. jstutzman says:

    TD Clark, it may not be warm enough for them to start growing yet. If you don’t see growth within the next 3 weeks, it is probably dead.

  8. jstutzman says:

    Melissa, you can take cuttings off the one that growing well and root them. Enjoy your Goji berries!

  9. Emma says:

    A friend gave me a pot of Goji berry plant, which were the new shoots from their big Goji berry tree. A few weeks ago, it produced a few berries, which were all eaten by the birds.

    My question is this plant has hardly grown since I got it. In about 7 months, it’s grown only 2 or 3 inch taller. Is this normal? It’s sitting in a 3 gallon container that’s about 12 inch tall.

    I live in Silicone Valley of California.

    Also, another friend told me the leaves of goji berry are edible. Does that depend on the kinds of goji berry plant?

  10. jstutzman says:

    Emma, it would be normal to only grow a few inches in that time frame since you are starting with a cutting. Birds do love Goji Berries, you need to cover them up once the berries start coming on. We don’t have info on eating the leaves. Good luck with your plant.

  11. Selma Chung says:

    Is is the nature of the gogi plant to be invasive? I have shoots appearing within five feet of the mother plant,

  12. jstutzman says:

    Selma, the Goji plant does spread. If you don’t want this to happen, simply keep the shoots trimmed back.

  13. Emma says:

    Thank you for your answer.

    My goji berry grown from last-year’s cutting grows some fruits, but they taste bitter. Any idea?

  14. jstutzman says:

    Emma, how much moisture is it getting through out the summer?

  15. Emma says:

    I don’t know how to give you a number for moisture. But I almost water them daily during summer.

  16. jstutzman says:

    Emma, you should have your soil tested to determine the pH levels. We have inexpensive testers if you don’t already have one. http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/ProductCart/pc/Home-Soil-Testing-Kits-and-Light-Meters-c512.htm

  17. Windy Acres says:

    Thnks for a clear and understandable explanation. And for the heads up about assertive nature of spreading. It will be helpful, as I’m trying Goji’s for the first time. LOL no one warned me about the nature of the trumpet vine I planted ! Oh what a surprise !!! If I get to share the berries with the birds, it’s another bonus.
    ;~D

  18. jstutzman says:

    Windy Acres, if you don’t cover up the Goji’s when the berries come on, the birds might not share with you. Good luck.

  19. Emma says:

    After I re-pot my goji berry with steer manure, it grows much better and the berries are much more sweeter. My steer manure is alkaline.

    There are white powdery patches on many leaves. Are they fungus? My goji berry plant is situation right next to the swimming pool. It gets a lot of sun and also humidity there. Should I move it away from swimming pool?

  20. jstutzman says:

    Emma, yes you should move it away from your swimming pool. Is the manure composted before you use it?

    Joe

  21. Emma says:

    The steer manure was bought from Osh. It’s composted.

  22. jstutzman says:

    Emma, if I were you, I would stop using the compost. Goji plants do not like too much nutrients. Let me know how they do after the move.

  23. Emma says:

    I’ve not added any more compost.

    I moved my goji berry to a place away from the swimming pool but unfortunately and unknowingly to a spot where the sprinkler can reach. (I also realize its old spot that’s by the swimming pool also can be reached by sprinkler, although not as much) After a couple of days, all its leaves were covered with white powdery stuff.

    Even though I quickly moved it to a dry spot, the damage remains: yellow leaves, white powdery leaves, and bitter fruits (although bigger than ever). As I wrote, my goji berry grew really well after re-potting and now there are lots of unripe fruits. I’ve pulled out quiet a few leaves, but to get rid of this white powdery stuff, I would have to pull out all leaves.

    What do you recommend? This fungus problem is not showing any sign of abating.

  24. jstutzman says:

    Emma: Treat with food grade diatomaceous earth, both on the leaves and in the soil. Do not use leaves for tea. Wash fruit before eating. Here is a link for DE, http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/ProductCart/pc/Food-Grade-Diatomaceous-Earth-c11.htm Good luck.

  25. Emma says:

    Can I ask why diatomaceous earth? I did a little online research. It’s a insecticide and pesticide, but I don’t see it as a fungicide.

  26. jstutzman says:

    Emma, DE has been researched for use on cotton and a variety of veggies for this application.

  27. elisa says:

    My Goji berries is not growing any fruit but tons of leaves and shoots. Some leaves on shoots are smaller than others and it’s in a shady area about 2-3 hours of sun. I had it about 1 year now and it’s getting very tall. I haven’t try to prune the shoots yet. Would that help? How to get fruit?

  28. jstutzman says:

    Elisa, berries grow on “new” wood only. If you don’t prune, you will get very few berries. The second and largest issue is that Goji plants need full sun, at least 8 hours. You will need to move it’s location for the berries to start growing. Good luck.

  29. Mary says:

    I started growing a Gojiberry plant in a large container. The leaves are covered with white powdery stuff that could not be removed. Is this fungus? Kindly advise how to get rid of it, and how to avoid the white powdery stuff. Can it be salvaged? Mary

  30. jstutzman says:

    Mary, Sounds like powdery mildew. Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is reported to control powdery mildew. There are also various copper fungicides for mildew. The spores for this bug are everywhere and all solanaceae family plants seem to be susceptible. I would not use infected leaves for tea. Unlike tomatoes, I don’t think powdery mildew will kill gojiberries, but it should be controlled. Good luck. GHS

  31. jstutzman says:

    Vasile the Goji Berry plant would grow in your conditions. Good luck. GHS

  32. Mary says:

    I have learned from the previous comments but I have another problem that maybe someone can help with. The yellowjackets are trying to suck the juice out of every berry before tehy are even ripe enough to pick. I’ve been hosing the plants down about every other day hoping to wash off the juicy smell that is atracting them and that helps some but not enough. Any ideas on how to reclaim my berries ?? (They TOTALLY took over my black currants and I got NO berries…Very bad year for yellowjackets here)

  33. John burke says:

    I have 2 acres in 2000 foot elevation south facing slope western slope of sierras east of sacramento. How far apart should I plant the berries for max production and how long do the plants live?

  34. Linda says:

    I have some shoots popping up here and there and would like to transplant them…I live in Seattle. When is the best time of year to dig up the shoots and replant?

  35. jstutzman says:

    Linda it would depend on how many days till your first fall frost date it. I would not do it unless you have at least 6 weeks left before frost. If you don’t have that much time now, do it in the spring after the leaves start sprouting on the Goji plant.

  36. jstutzman says:

    John, the best spacing for your Goji Berry plant is 4 feet between plants and 8 feet between rows. The plants are perennials, so they come back each year. Once the nights stay below 45F, they will go dormant. Good luck!

  37. jstutzman says:

    Mary, we would recommend setting out yellow jacket traps. Take an old plastic soda bottle, put apple juice in the bottom, then sit it in a sunny location. Good luck!

  38. Desiree says:

    You can eat the Goji berry leaves, they are good for your eyesight. In China, we buy branches of Goji berry leaves from the wet market, and take off the leaves, then make soup or broth out of them. We normally add eggs (beat them first) to the broth. Add some salty and chicken stock to flavour the broth.

  39. Ferguson says:

    Hi,
    I am new at gardening & was interested in growing these Goji berries.
    I live in east Tennessee. Is this an ideal location to grow them?
    When would be the best time to get started? Should I start them out as seeds or purchase a small plant?
    I’ve also read that they should not be transferred from indoors to outdoors, but rather remain wherever they first started out.
    I apologize for all the questions, but I have no idea what I’m doing here.

    All advice appreciated

  40. Kenny Demick says:

    I own a Naturally Grown Goji farm in Nevada. I brought fresh goji to the market this summer. We sell fresh leaves for eating in salads and other cooking. We have tea and goji powder from tea leaves. Right now I have 500 sets…or bushes..since they produce heavier as sets. I have taken 8 years to master the goji growing. I have 5000 cuttings and babies growing and will have 2000 producing plants next summer. With in 5 years I plan to have 20 acres in full production.

  41. jstutzman says:

    Kenny that sounds great, keep up the good work!

  42. jstutzman says:

    Hello Ferguson. Good questions. It is best to plant Goji Berries in locations that enjoy full sun. It is certainly easier to start with plants verses seeds. They are a very hardy plant and will not be bothered by going from inside to the outside. Good luck with your plants!

  43. Christopher says:

    Hi, I live in southern Ohio. I have a 7 month old goji plant, It is 7 feet tall and has 5 stems or shots whatever you want to call them. In the summer it was very moist here and my plants had gotten some sort of fungus on them and all of the leafs fell of. So I got some anti fungal spray and treeted the plant. Some of the leafs grew back but only on the south side of the plant. Will the rest of the plant ever grow its leafs back? Is it normal for the plant to still be growing and still have leafs on it this time of year? I know it is pretty cold resistant but its been down in the 2o’s and my plant still hasnt lost its leafs.

  44. jstutzman says:

    Hello Christopher. Yes Goji plants can be very hardy, with winter setting in you should lose the remaining leaves very soon. Sorry to hear about the fungal issue. It should put out new growth next year and grow just fine, as long as the fungal issue is not persistent in your area. At the first sign of it next year, apply some food grade diatomaceous earth. About the height, we would recommend pruning it down to a height you can manage from the ground. Remember, Goji Berries grow on new wood only, so lots of trimming. Good luck with your plant.

  45. Mary says:

    Has anyone tried growing gogi berriess in Maine? I am on the edge of zones 4-5.

  46. jstutzman says:

    Mary, our Goji Berry plants are good down to zone 3, so you would have no issues growing them in your area.

  47. Janice says:

    What pH is recommended for growing goji berry plants ?

  48. jstutzman says:

    Janice, the pH level of the soil that goji plants thrive in is 6.8

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