How to Grow Goji Berry Plants

Goji berries growing on a plantThe Lycium barbarum variety of Gogi Berry Plants are a perennial in zones 3 to 10, they are actually quite remarkably heat and cold tolerant. Bearing slightly elongated, red fruit, about the size of a raisin, Goji plants are deciduous, which means they drop their leaves every year, usually after the first frost. You can read about pruning below.

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.


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.

It will take approximately 15 plants to feed one person for one year. Nutrition experts recommend eating 10 to 30 grams per day, which equates to about 1/3 to 1 ounce. One ounce is about the size of a single-serve box of raisins.

Your bare root plants will survive for a while without being planted, but we recommend you plant them as soon as possible. We also suggest that you get them established inside, in a sunny location, before moving them outdoors 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 pot 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. 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 2-3 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, depending on when you plant. It could be the first season 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. Provide protection for your plants if the temperatures become really cold.


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.

We recommend you start your Goji plant 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 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, just follow steps 1 through 7 above, after 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.

Unpruned Goji Berry PlantIf 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.
  • Mature Goji Berry bushes can reach up to 8 feet high and wide unless they’re regularly pruned, so space accordingly. We recommend not closer than 48 inches between plants and 8 feet between rows.
  • 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.

Once the average daytime temperature drops below 50 degrees, your Goji plant will start going into dormancy. It will stay dormant until the springtime 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.


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, though pruning incorrectly or over-pruning can reduce your yield dramatically. It is also important to have the right tool for the job. A dull or inadequate pruner can do more damage than good.

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

To prune adult plants, just remove the branches above the maximum height you want. 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. Goji Berry plants grow similarly to a weeping willow. If allowed to grow un-pruned, you can end up with a mighty wild look.

We hope this has helped you to understand the needs of the Goji berry plant.  Fertilizer is not necessary as excess nitrogen will kill the plants.

For preparing this amazingly healthy superfood, we have discovered a cookbook, Goji Berries :The Ultimate Recipe Guide – Over 30 Delicious & Best Selling Recipes It’s filled with illustrations and recipes for everything from breakfast to main dishes and even includes a chapter on appetizers!

We wish you much planting success and good health! Happy Gardening!

291 Responses to “How to Grow Goji Berry Plants”

  1. Troy says:

    I have 4 plants, they are in the first year are in a green house and about 4ft tall and producing berries in zone 8.

    Some berries are red, when is the right time to harvest?

    I plan on growing these year around, is this possible in a green house?

    The leaves are turning yellow and some are falling off, I water and fertilize weekly with miracle-grow 24-8-16 if I stop fertilizing will the leaves go back to green?

    I would like to fertilize can I use a non nitrogen one? if so what would you recommend?

    Whats the proper way to prune to encourage berries to grow?


  2. Bob says:

    I planted a goji berry this spring. It has put out one shoot that is over 6 feet long and it’s laying flat on the ground. Should I stake it upwards? It’s almost frightening how fast it’s growing. I could trellis it what’s your recommendation?

  3. Twilla spruell says:

    we have 3 gojo plants and only one is productive but all are planted fairly close to each other like 5 ft apart, what can we do to help production of other two, they have been in ground for 2 yrs

  4. BArry says:

    Hello. I have Gojiberries that I have planted from seed two years ago. They have yet to fruit, and mine do not look near as healthy or leafy as the ones I see on line. They seem to lose leaves. I seen a few flowers at one time, and one fruit (that was small and black), but for the most part, they just do not look good. In my internet searches, one web sites says this, another says the oppisite, and with all the confusing info, I’m clueless. This page is great, but doesn’t seem to go into a lot of detail, or cover problems. I don’t know where to turn, but I will not give up. I just need someone who can help me get mine up to par. Any help out there?

  5. jstutzman says:

    Barry, can you tell us how much sun it receives each day, if its growing in the ground or in a container, what the soil pH level is, how often you fertilize and with what, and what your hardiness zone is? Once we have this info we will try and get an answer. Joe

  6. jstutzman says:

    Twilla, do the all receive the same sun and moisture? GHS

  7. jstutzman says:

    Congrats on the growing Goji plant Bob! It would be best to trim it back and not just let it grow. Some growers do stake their plants, however it is a very time consuming thing to do and you will always be reworking it as these plants need trimmed on a daily basis. Good luck. GHS

  8. jstutzman says:

    Troy, let me try and answer you questions on growing Goji Berries. They can be harvested anytime after they have turned red. These plants must have a dormant period or at least cut all the way back to the ground and allowed to grow new wood before they will produce again. Stop fertilizing, they dont like a lot, and it sounds like you are doing too much. For sure dont use nitrogen. Something like fish emulsion works well in small amounts. Goji berries only grow on new wood, so trimming needs done after every harvest. Good luck! GHS

  9. Lori Lunney says:

    My goji plant is on its second year and looks great. I weave it in and out of a fence and it’s amazing how fast it grows. Last year I didn’t cut it back and this year I’ve continued to weave. Should I cut it all the way back and take the beaches out of the fencing at the end of Fall or beginning in Spring? It looks pretty, but I want the maximum berries.

  10. MikeWalker says:

    How do you eat them? I are one raw and it was horrible. I spit it out immediately. I would imagine they’re better as ingredients that you can’t taste. Maybe dry them out? Just curious about how everyday normal people are eating them.

  11. jstutzman says:

    Mike, it might not have been totally ready to pick yet?

  12. jstutzman says:

    Lori, keep in mind that Goji Berries only develop on “new” wood. So if you just let it keep growing, there will be less berries compared to the size of the plant. However, the larger plant will still have berries. So you can let it grow for a while and if you don’t like the amount you are getting, you can always cut it back. Good luck, Joe

  13. jstutzman says:

    Melanie, just let it keep growing. If nothing happens in another month, you might want to start over. Good luck, Joe

  14. Richelle A Duncan says:

    What does it mean when you say “Gojis only grow on new wood.” I’m a new grower and want to know all I can about these berries. I’m sick and their nutrient rich berries help me. Thank you and God Bless.

  15. jstutzman says:

    Richelle, “new wood” means the growth that happens each year. If you cut the Goji back, it will grow new branches in the spring. That would be the new wood. I hope the berries help you get well soon. You are welcome, and thanks for the blessing! Joe

  16. rani2014 says:

    My Goji berry has become horrible invasive. I have two pots and they have grown out of the pots. The branches which grew over the pots are growing in the soil and the roots are everywhere and so are the shoots. The roots which grew out of the pots are also sending out shoots and root. At present I am digging and have pile about 3 feet high and 7 feet or more long. This is not fun.

  17. jstutzman says:

    rani2014, the roots do spread. To stop this, grow them in a container that does not have drain holes. Also, the branches do need pruned regularly.

  18. Melissa says:

    Hi there!

    I bought a tiny stick sized goji years ago and planted it in a smart pot, we have seen it flower but have never actually gotten any fruit from it! Now that I know more I’m hoping to get some fruit! My concern is that my plant really has no main shoots it seems. When I’m looking at it it seems like every shoot comes from the soil. I just planted it in the ground but I am at a loss on pruning it. Help!

  19. Janet says:

    I have a friend who plants goji berries and her’s are in bloom right now( may). Mine have been blooming in September and fruit in late October, often too late to get ripe fruit. It is planted in full sun. Is this normal? I wonder why they don’t bloom in the spring like my friend’s who lives nearby?

  20. Dana says:

    I am in zone 5 growing my gojis in pots. Last year was 1st year and they 2 of 3 produced about 8 cups of berries. Now the weather is getting beautiful and I’m seeing no sign of life. I did cut one “branch” and its green on the inside. No other pruning has been done. Should I cut them down and hope for new growth or just continue playing the waiting game?

  21. Lois Usselman says:

    If I plant in container, can I over winter in garage in zone 4.

  22. Marilyn says:

    I am looking to purchase vines I saw advertised. We live in zone 4 Wisconsin. It’s June now. Could we order some and keep pots outside and bring them in for the winter and wait to put them in the ground next year? We are moving in three years and are hoping to harvest berries next year or at the latest in the second year before we move. Should we keep them in a pot to assure berries sooner?

  23. Sharon says:

    Thanks! I needed help with ph. I’m at 6300 ft. in the desert. Goji grow up here.
    I blundered through two years with a bare root start in a pot and accidentally did things correctly. Oh, no! It froze. Brought it in and BERRIES. Pruned to keep it out of the curtains and it did it again.
    Hint: If you’re growing inside, get a watercolor paintbrush. When you see a flower, gently brush. You’ll see the pollen. Spread it from flower to flower.
    Now, my big baby is in the ground and I’m growing babies from seeds.

  24. Vangie says:

    I have four goji berry plants but two of them their leaveas are lighter green than the others?

  25. jstutzman says:

    Vangie, if the are all growing well, I would not be concerned at this time. Lets wait and see how they produce. Joe

  26. jstutzman says:

    Marilyn, keeping them in a pot will not make them produce berries any sooner. I would go ahead and plant them in the ground now. When you are ready to move, just dig up the roots you want and leave the rest there. It might take a year before they start producing once moved but will make a nicer plant overall. Joe

  27. jstutzman says:

    Lois, in order to have the best chance at success, it would have to be an unheated garage. Joe

  28. jstutzman says:

    Dana, are you growing in a container or in the ground?

  29. jstutzman says:

    Janet, try cutting them back a bit in the spring. This will help the plant to “produce during the summer”. Joe

  30. jstutzman says:

    Melissa, we will need to know how you fertilize, water, and how much sun it receives to try and answer your questions. Joe

  31. Cori says:

    Hi –

    I have a couple dozen or so rooted goji berry cuttings that I’d like to plant out. My site is sunny and well drained, mostly clay soil, Mildly acid pH, and I’m in Middle Tennessee in Zone 7. We have hot humid summers and freezing winters, but usually little or no snow cover.

    My question is, should I go ahead and plant them out now, or overwinter them in pots and plant out in the spring? I know they are very hardy, but never having grown them before I want to get it right, as I am really anticipating the harvest. I love goji berries. 😉

    Thanks, Cori

  32. linda kolb says:

    Our Goji is in its third year. It is gorgeous ! Loaded with berries.
    I eat them straight from the vine.Will begin training it to climb.
    I purchased it online as a bareroot.plant.Following instructions to let it soak for fifteen minutes.
    Have had remarkable luck with it.
    We live in zone 4.Southern Illinois.

  33. Diana McLean says:

    My first time growing my goji berry plant. It is September and some of the leaves on the long stem of my plant are falling off, why? It is getting cold here in southeastern Montana, do I bring my plant inside for cover it?

  34. Teresa says:

    I planted a Goji berry plant this year, in the ground on the east side of my home. It’s grown like crazy and has been bearing fruit. The first one I’ve tasted almost tasted like a underripe tomato bell pepper mix. I spit it out too, but it may not have been ripe enough. I get impatient. And I also think I was expecting more the “sweet berry” taste! I live in zone 3 and was wondering about the best way to winterize it? I never put mulch down, but after reading here I will have to do that.

  35. Larry Huguley says:

    Do Goji plants have to go through a dormancy stage. I have 4 plants in 5-gallon pots. Can I take them and put them under grow light during the winter bring them back out in the spring? Or should I put them in a cool basement for the winter? Or will they be fine outside. Was wondering if the roots would freeze and harm the plant. Lows around this area average around 22 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit,

  36. jstutzman says:

    Larry, Gogi plants need a period of dormancy. A cool spot in an outside building would be best. Good luck, Joe

  37. jstutzman says:

    Teresa, they are not “sweet” like you think about a strawberry or other fruit. It may have been a bit under ripe? You can trim it back some and let it go for the winter. No special mulching is needed as they are very hardy once established. Good luck, Joe

  38. jstutzman says:

    Diana, you do not need to bring your plant inside. If you do, it should be in an unheated building as it requires a period of dormancy. Good luck, Joe

  39. leon says:

    I Have a Goji shrub in its third season ,I pruned it heavily at the end of last season ,it has produced masses of flowers which have turned to berries but the berries are not growing to full size but are stunted and prematurely drying on the plant and as such are inedible .

  40. I have a 3 year old Goji which is healthy and productive with slight pruning. I am amazed that no-one complains of its invasiveness. This year I have pulled out as many as fifty plants growing as far away from the parent plant as 5 metres. It is a constant battle.

  41. jstutzman says:


    It sounds like you have a healthy plant! Yes, they will spread if the conditions are right, so as you prune, trim off the new shoots that may appear around the plant.

    Happy gardening, Joe

Leave a Reply