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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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, 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!

237 Responses to “How to Grow Goji Berry Plants”

  1. Ms. BB says:

    will this plant grow in zone 4a?

  2. Judy Cardwell says:

    I live in Minnesota in a suburb of Minneapolis and I was told I could grow Goji plants. I would like to grow the vine along a chain link fence. Do you think I could?

  3. Rachael Rowsell says:

    When can I prune the Goji berry plant as I just planted it last summer….didn’t cover it for the winter….now the bush is showing lots of long sticks but no leaves….should I prune it now in the spring?

  4. jstutzman says:

    Rachel, you can wait till it starts showing signs of life. Unless it has grown very large in the first year, we would not recommend pruning just yet. GHS

  5. jstutzman says:

    Judy, Goji Berry plants are good to grow in your area. Good luck. GHS

  6. jstutzman says:

    Natassia, it is best not to give Gojis any fertilizer. Have you prunned it each year? If not, that could be the issue as fruits are only produced on “new” wood, not last years branches. Good luck, GHS

  7. jstutzman says:

    Ms. BB, yes Goji Berry plants will grow in zone 4. Good luck. GHS

  8. jstutzman says:

    Jenn, Goji Berry plants should be prunned back to control their growth. This also helps it to produce berries since they only grow on new wood. Thinning can be done as you see fit. Good luck, GHS

  9. jstutzman says:

    Simone, your Goji Berry plants can be transplanted anytime you see fit. Just keep the soil moist for the first month till they get established. Good luck, GHS

  10. Natassia says:

    I have not pruned it. Last summer was its first summer after wintering. This will be its second. I will prune it and hope for the best

  11. Brooke says:

    Do deer eat these? If grazed somewhat by deer, will they likely still survive or be demolished? We have quite a few deer in our area, but want to put this in our front lawn.

  12. jstutzman says:

    Unfortunately deer will eat about anything if they get hungry enough. With that being said, Goji Berry plants will bounce back if grazed on. Good luck. GHS

  13. Mitch says:

    Does watering need to be stopped before August, such as with sour cherry trees, to force the Goji into dormancy so it survives a cold winter???

  14. andrea says:

    I have a wolfberry bush I live way up north in Montana and I have it in a giant pot very cold winters and it survived its about 3 years old now it produced its first berried last year

  15. jstutzman says:

    Congrats on your producing Goji Berry plant Andrea!

  16. jstutzman says:

    Mitch, watering does not need to stop for the Goji Berry to go dormant for the winter. However it can be reduced once the berries are harvested.

  17. Joyce Sobotta says:

    I just purchased a Goji plant. I live in northern WI. If I start it in a pot will I bring it in the heated garage over Winter? Or would it be best to plant it in the ground?

  18. jstutzman says:

    Joyce, Goji Berry plants need to have a dormancy period. So just let them in an unheated building if still in a container. Good luck. GHS

  19. jstutzman says:

    Marilyn, you might want to try using a blossom set spray this summer when they are flowering. It will help them to set fruits. Here is more info: http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/productcart/pc/Blossom-Set-Spray-c461.htm You could also try pruning a bit heavier. Good luck. GHS

  20. Polly Huggins says:

    I bought 5 plants and transplanted them twice. It’s spot was too shady. One plant died the first year. They have been in this very large garden for three years. They are going like crazy and have evaded the whole flower garden. Full of small flowers on each brach. Should be interesting to see how much fruit I get this year. I am going to dig most of these up and pot them in early fall. They,are evening growing out in my driveway….crazy!

  21. Rita Boyle says:

    I have a goji berry plants by two and not one has flowered any ideas

  22. jstutzman says:

    Rita, we need a bit more info before we can attempt an answer. How long have they been planted? How often are they watered? Have you fertilized them? How much sun do they receive? GHS

  23. jstutzman says:

    Polly, Goji plants do spread if you dont keep the shoots trimmed back. Sounds like they are headed for a good harvest!

  24. jimmy adam says:

    I have goji but I have let it grow it is now very high should I prune now or wait till the winter it looks very healthy and will I get any fruit this year as I planted it last year

  25. Scarlette says:

    My Goji Berry plants are turning yellow and losing leaves. I have done everything exactly as directed and they are in the second season now. I was advised that they might be getting too much water? I spoke to someone at a nursery who said to treat them more like a cactus? She said the mulch would keep the water in and damage them. Please advise if I should do something different. They are in full sun (all day) and they are in soil that is around 6.5. Thank you

  26. Josh says:

    Hi. I have propagated 2 types of goji and I have them in 5 gallon buckets. My question is do these need winter protection being above ground in buckets. I’m in Indiana zone 5b. I want to eventually transfer some to the ground but keep some in buckets. I have around 20 buckets going now. Can you let me know about the winter protection? Also could I transfer some to the ground soon? It’s June 5th here. Thanks!

  27. jstutzman says:

    Josh, the best thing to do with these containers would be to move them into an unheated building once they gone dormant for the winter. If that is not available, cover them with some type of blanket. Happy gardening!

  28. jstutzman says:

    Scarlette, it sounds like they need a bit more water than you are giving them. Can you tell me if you are using any fertilizer on your Goji Berry plant? Joe

  29. jstutzman says:

    Jimmy, I would wait to prune till this winter and the plant has gone dormant. Sounds like you should prune the Goji Berry plant a bit heavier than you have in the past. Happy gardening, Joe

  30. Derek says:

    This says the plant will stop growing once roots hit the bottom of the container, is this permanent or will it resume growth once placed in a larger container? I’ve started a few gojis in small pots in my apartment and all have stopped growth and are a manageable size but will be moving to a larger apartment in the next few months and was wondering if larger pots would cause the plants to continue their growth.

  31. MARJ2625 says:

    Hello very one i gust got my goji berry today 6/9/16 i live in a apartment what can i do to get them to live in a pot but i can take THEM TO THE PORCH i live in Florida

  32. Raj says:

    I have one year old Goji berry plant that I moved from a pot to ground and it show happened that the root got exposed.. NOW it seems it is dieing what can I do ?

  33. pat jodarski says:

    I have my plants in the house in sun can they go out on patio hear wont grow in wi

  34. jstutzman says:

    Derek, your Goji plants will grow larger if placed into larger containers. Enjoy your new apartment! Joe

  35. jstutzman says:

    Pat, Goji Berry plants should grow in your area. What hardiness zone are you in? Joe

  36. jstutzman says:

    Raj, I am not sure why it would appear to be dying. Can you cover it with mulch? How long has it been since being transplanted? Joe

  37. jstutzman says:

    Marj2625, congrats on your Goji Berry plant! They are very easy to grow in a container. Just make sure the soil is not loaded with fertilizer. Then just keep it watered and you will be good to go. Joe

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