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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'tmake 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 Potting 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 2-3 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. We recommend one of our WOLF-Garten pruners.

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.

We hope this article has helped you understand the needs of the Goji Berry plant. For preparing this amazingly healthy superfood, we have discovered a cookbook, written by Dr. Donald R. Daugs, called, Goji and Wolfberry, Superfood Cook Book for Health, Flavor and FunIt's filled with illustrations and 93 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!

263 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

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