« Back to all News

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!

120 Responses to “How to Grow Goji Berry Plants”

  1. Judith says:

    I lost them over the summer. They were overtaken by weeds and got choked out. My bad!

  2. jstutzman says:

    Judith, starting the new ones in a bucket is a great way to start them. In fact you can leave them in there a couple of years before putting them into the ground. During the winter, it is helpful for your Goji’s if you bring them inside an unheated building. Let me know if you have further questions. Joe

  3. Judith says:

    Unfortunately, they were overtaken by weeds. They overwintered just fine the year before but didn’t make it through the entire summer. I have two new goji’s and don’t want to kill them. One is from WFF and the other from Garden’s Alive. The interesting thing is that they don’t look at all like each other.

  4. greg says:

    Can you use routone powder to take cutting. And how do yo do it for best results.
    Thanks Greg

  5. jstutzman says:

    Greg we are not familiar with that product. Cuttings must be stems old enough to have changed from green to gray in color. Success on cuttings is considered very good at 40%, we do not recommend this method for starting Goji plants. Rooted starts are the preferred method.

  6. Greg Garriss says:

    Cuttings can be fussy and success can be low.. That said, I saw a Youtube where a guy just shoved branches in the ground and they rooted fine. Annoying…

  7. joanna says:

    planted 5 years ago grow 6 feet, but never any fruit yet!
    I prune every autumn. problem may be, they keep getting a silvery coverage on leaves and slightly wither, i guess its disease? they are now 20 inches high. Looks like same problem again.

  8. jstutzman says:

    Greg, I think we need that fellow to do all of our plantings. Just doesn’t happen that easily. Thanks for the comments. Joe

  9. jstutzman says:

    Joanna: This sounds like powdery mildew, which usually is tied to hot weather, not cold wet. In fact hosing off the leaves may help. The spores for this fungus are found everywhere. There are a lot of fungicides to use for powdery mildew, but Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is very effective and not a human health hazard. DE is applied dry to cover the plants and on the soil around the plants. Also too much nitrogen retards fruiting and a low soil pH may contribute to powdery mildew. Good luck with your Goji Berry plant.

  10. Chris says:

    I have a healthy plant ready to go into the ground. However, we have thousands of gophers, and every single plant on the property has been put into a gopher basket or it won’t survive. Even full grown fig trees have been taken down. My question: since the Goji has such a long tap root system, how can I protect the roots but allow them to go down as far as they can? I am thinking of making a long tube of gopher basket material, maybe 30 inches long, and hope the gophers don’t go further down than that to eat. Thoughts?

  11. jstutzman says:

    Good question Chris, and one I am not sure can be satisfied. I think your suggestion would be helpful; however the Goji plant needs more than just its tap root to thrive. So I am not sure that measure alone will be enough. If you give it a try, please let us know how it turns out.
    Joe
    GHS

  12. Tanya says:

    Last year my aunt gave me a little branch from her goji plant (about 5 inches). I stuck the little twig into the veggie raised bed and now it’s fruiting like crazy! I’m getting thousands of berries. In just one year it grew into quite a big bush. Maybe it’s just luck. I don’t know… But I love eating them fresh right off the vines.

  13. jstutzman says:

    Tanya, that sounds great! We would love to see a photo. GHS

  14. SCOTTY says:

    Third or fourth trip back to your site for the Goji growing hints. I would put your tips and information in the top five for growing the Goji. I have 9 plants growing now and- no two -are growing the same, they all seem to have unique qualities. Thanks again for the tips. I’m sure I’ll be back (I can’t remember everything) so please keep your site going! Scotty. I also shared this to my FB site for some other new Goji growers. Thanks again.

  15. jstutzman says:

    Glad to hear your plants are doing well Scotty! Happy gardening. GHS

  16. jessica says:

    Hi, I live in Utah and was given several goji bushes last week. They withered as soon as she took them out of the ground. I put them in cool muddy very wet mud until that night and then planted. This week, the leaves are super tiny any shriveled. I have no clue if it will bounce back. I took all leaves off as they were dead. Any suggestions?

  17. jstutzman says:

    Jessica, goji is fairly hardy. I would keep them in “moist” soil for the next 2-3 weeks. They should push some new leaves soon. Good luck! GHS

  18. pat says:

    Probably going to be the same answer to my question as the rest of these folks, but I guess I just need some reassuring. I’ve had my plant for 2 years now, we live in southern California and it really grew fast with our weather. It’s about 8 feet tall if you stand them up and really stringy with lightly withered leaves that start about 18 inches up from the pot it’s planted in and doesn’t have many leaves at all. It seriously looks like the Charlie Brown tree of goji. Anyways, what to do? Trim, cut way back and try again, or wait another year? I do still need to test the soil tho. Please help me. Thanks, Pat

  19. jstutzman says:

    Hello Pat. We would agree, testing your soil is the first step you should take. What size is the container the Goji Berry plant is in, how often do you water it, and do you add any fertilizer (and if so, how often)? GHS

  20. pat says:

    I water it every day otherwise it looks to dry, fertilizer has been a while and it’s in a 2 foot by 2 foot container.

Leave a Reply

 

Discount Coupons
Ask a Master Gardener
Blog Archives
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008