Learn how to grow goji berries in this article. Growing goji berries (wolfberry) is really rewarding because of high nutritional value of its fruits.
Used in traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are very valuable and nutritious: contain carotenoids, beta carotene, vitamin C, B, E, as well as more than 30 trace elements, antioxidants and 19 amino acids. They are truly exceptional, improve the immune system and eyesight.
The fruits appear as orange-red berries with a bright color in elongated shape, the size of 1-2 cm, with a slightly sour flavor. They can be eaten fresh, made into juice or wine and as a snack. Bark of this plant can be used in teas and infusions.
There are two varieties of goji berry plant: “Lycium chinense”, which bears small sized berries and “Lycium Barbarum” with the greatest taste and more sweeter berries. This article is about Growing Goji berries (Lycium Barbarum), also called “Wolfberry”.
This highly branched, deciduous and slightly thorny shrub grows up to 3 meters tall and wide in its natural form. However, it can be restricted to 1 – 2 m tall, which makes it perfect hedging plant. growing goji berries in pots and containers is also possible.
USDA Zones — 2 – 9
Difficulty — Easy
Other Names — Chinese wolfberry, Chinese boxthorn, Himalayan goji, Tibetan goji, mede berry, barbary matrimony vine, Duke of Argyll’s tea tree, Duke of Argyll’s tea plant, Murali, red medlar or matrimony vine
How to Grow Goji Berries
Goji berry plant can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, division and layering.
For growing goji berries from seeds, buy seeds or take them out from dried goji fruit. In spring, sow seeds in moist substrate and keep them at a warm place, optimum germination temperature is around 20 C. The germination takes place between 3 to 15 days.
Transplant seedlings immediately, after 2 weeks to avoid stress in a pot or on the the ground while handing the roots gently.
Planting Goji Berries
Dig a wide hole, keeping the depth same as the root ball of plant, add plenty of compost or aged manure and sand or perlite in the planting soil if the substrate is compact. Leave space of 2 m between each plant.
Growing Goji Berries in Pots
Growing goji berries in containers is possible. Use a pot that is large and deep enough to hold the plant. Plant it in a light potting mix. Repot it once in every 2-3 years or whenever you find it rootbound. Fertilize the plant with tomato feed twice in the month in the growing period.
Requirements For Growing Goji Berries
As the lycium barbarum belongs to the solanaceae family (tomato family), hence requirements for growing goji berries are somewhat similar to tomatoes. It requires rich fertile soil, full sun and fertilizer to thrive and produce fruits.
Wolfberry plant can tolerate down to minimum -9 F (-23 C). Plant it in the full sun, though it can tolerate partial shade in warmer zones.
Wolfberry plants are not demanding when it comes to soil, it grows in almost any soil type with good permeability. Soil pH should be neutral around 6 – 6.5.
In the first year, keep the plant well watered. Maintain the soil moisture in summer. In winter, reduce the watering or even there is no need to water if the plant is grown on the ground. In pot, water it three times a week in summer, once in winter.
Goji Berry Plant Care
Goji berry plant bears fruit on the present year’s wood, that is grown in the fall or spring. Pruning is done to limit the height of plant, improve light penetration and air circulation and to encourage the growth of lateral branches to increase fruit production. Pruning is done at the time when plant is not actively growing, usually in early spring to remove lanky canes, dead and damaged wood, and shorten laterals.
As with many other plants this technique is implied to stimulate the development of lateral branches. To perform the pinching, just press the stem between thumb and forefinger around the apex in order to remove the top.
Pests, Diseases and problems
If growing conditions are met, goji plant are not prone to any specific pests or diseases. Its leaves can be eaten by slugs or caterpillars and fruits are eaten by birds
When growing goji berries, you must know that the plant takes at least two years to produce fruits and reaches its full capacity in 4 to 5 years. Harvesting is done when fruits are soft and red. You can eat them fresh or store.