Growing Goji Berries

Growing Goji berries in your garden or landscape is a great way to have a year round supply of this healthy fruit. I first saw this at our local farmer market for sale in quarter pint containers for $5.00. My husband wanted some so he handed off $10.00 for a half pint of these orange red berries.

Goji berries have a bitter sweet flavor due to the high polysaccharides so I like to mix goji berries with other berries in jams, and smoothies.

I could not find much information about growing goji berries so I set off to discover how to grow them through my own trial and error over the next few seasons.

The goji berry also known as the wolf berry can be grown from seed or cuttings. My first plant was purchased from the farmers market for $15.00 for a small cutting about 5 inches tall. It produced a few branches and flowers that first year.

The next year I found goji plants at my local nursery in four inch pots for $2.99. I bought 4 plants and put them in the garden. That first summer the 6 inch plants grew to 2 feet and gave me a harvest that first fall right up to the first hard frost.

The second year the four plants were producing even more berries and I soon realized I had planted too many plants for our needs.

Start Growing Goji Berries

Goji berries are grown originally in china; they are hardy and grow in zones 7 through 4. Goji berries can be grown from seed or cuttings. I found that getting your plants from a nursery is the best way to start.

If you can not find them in your nursery, cuttings and seeds ordered from a catalog nursery is your next choice. Goji cuttings and seedlings will produce a harvest the second year. My nursery bought plants started giving me fruit the first season.

You need to locate a sunny location for a permanent planting. Goji berries will grow bigger each year so regular pruning is necessary each spring and summer.

Plant your goji berry in well tilled soil with compost. Water well. The first season make sure the plant is watered once a week or as needed until the plant is established. After the plant is established, water at least an inch a week. Goji berries are drought tolerant but produce more berries if water is consistent but not to the point of soggy.

Harvesting and Pruning Goji Berries

As your plants mature and established themselves you will need to prune them to keep them from taking over your landscape. Goji berry roots go deep and spread up through suckering.

The plant can be cut to one single stem and grown as a tree, or can be trimmed back and grown as a bush. I prefer the bush method. It provides for easier pruning and it is easier to pick the fruit.

In the fall and winter months you can prune out some of the branches and keep the stems tipped. This promotes more growth and stems for berries to grow.  Goji berries are very tenacious so don’t be afraid to cut them back. The stems have thorns as the mature so be aware as you are reaching into the bushes.

Harvest the berries when they turn a nice orange red color. While I am harvesting the fruit I cut off any shoots coming up away from the plant. This keeps the plant in check.

Picked berries are fragile. They store in the fridge for a couple of days. I like to freeze them. You can dry them but I find they stick to the trays and are hard to remove. Use your berries in juice, jam, and smoothies. 

The only pest I have found in my area that love my growing goji berries are slugs. I find them munching on the fruits if I don’t harvest regularly. If your plants are healthy they will produce so many berries that you will be able to share them with the slugs and still have plenty for the family.

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