What is a Goji berry and how to plant?

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries or lycium barbarum, are hardy plants that are drought-resistant and grow in zones 3-10. These bright orange/red fruits have a slightly sour flavor and are considered a superfood because they are believed to boost the immune system and brain activity, protect against heart disease and cancer, and improve life expectancy.

Long-prized for their health benefits, goji berries are loaded with antioxidants and have high concentrations of vitamin B, C, and amino acids. They are often made into juice, herbal teas, or eaten fresh as a snack in trail mix. Dried goji berries are popular snacks.

These plants are easy to grow in your own backyard. They will fruit and flower throughout the summer until the first frost. If left unpruned, they can grow as tall as 10-13 feet with a spread of about 4 feet.

How long does it take Goji berry trees to bear fruit?

You will get limited fruit in the first year, but the second year on you’ll get a full crop.

Getting started growing Goji berries

You can start your goji berry adventure three ways. Planting seeds will take the longest to bear fruit. Planting a root crown cutting will produce fruit faster than seeds. The fastest way to start is with a potted plant. The delicious outcome will be the same, but how long it takes to get there will vary.

Growing Goji Berries at home

In a container:

Goji berries love growing in containers. You’ll get a more compact plant while the container prevents the roots from spreading, like raspberries. Goji berries put down a deep tap root, so the minimum size container should be 5 gallons.

In the ground:

Starting with a pulp pot, it can be planted directly in the ground (pot and all) after you see 6-8” of growth.
How to plant a bare root Goji berry
Before planting, soak in water for 15 minutes to 1 hour.

Goji berry planting guide

  1. Soil and site selection
    Goji berries grow best in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5. They prefer full sun and will not fruit well in shady areas.
  2. Planting
    Plant the seeds or root crown cuttings in spring after the last frost. Plant the seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep in well-drained soil. For root crown cuttings, bury the cutting 6 to 8 inches deep with the buds just above the soil surface.
  3. Watering
    Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth. Once the roots are established, water less often but more deeply.
  4. Fertilizing
    Apply a slow-release fertilizer at planting time and again in mid- to late summer for best growth and fruit production.
  5. Pruning
    Prune the plants after fruiting to promote new growth and fruit production. Remove dead or crossing branches and thin out the canopy to allow for better airflow and sun exposure.
  6. Pest control
    Goji berries are relatively pest-free, but watch for powdery mildew and mites. Spray with a fungicide if needed.
  7. Harvesting and storage
    Pick the fruits when they are fully ripe and store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze them for later use. Dried goji berries can be stored at room temperature for several months.

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