Attention: Goji Berry Lovers...
How To Grow Your Own Goji Berry Plants.
Where Do Goj Berries Like to Grow?
Goji Berries are also known as Lycium Barbarum or Chinese Wolfberry. The plants are deciduous, woody perennials and are very adaptable. They like lots of sun, preferring climates that are hot and dry in the summer, but they will grow just about anywhere, including in humid climates.
My strain of Lycium Barbarum grows naturally in Zone 5. See that little white spot at the top of Utah? That's the Great Salt Lake. My Goji plants came from just to the left of the Great Salt Lake.
These Goji berries should do well in zones 4 to 9. You can grow them in greenhouses in zone 1 to 3 because the dormant roots may not survive the winter.
There are several species and as many as 88 varieties. The most sought after species is Lycium Barbarum because it is the most nutritious.
At this time (2010) the only commercial source in the world for goji berries is from China or Mongolia. All shipments from Mongolia must go through China. This means that those of us who love our goji berries are beholden to the whims of the Chinese government in allowing goji trade as well as to the fears of the USDA in allowing the berries to be imported.
But due to a little known piece of American history (see right), there is a hardy stock of Goji Berries that has adapted itself to North America. Now you can have access to a hardy, mature stock of goji plants to grow your own Goji Berries.
Remember Johnny Appleseed?
Fast forward and think: Johnny Goji-seed
YOU can be part of the Grass Roots (so to speak) Movement for Goji to become a common plant in the U.S.!
JOIN GOJI UNDERGROUND (and above-ground) TODAY!
All aboard the Goji Express! Do your little part! Lots of little goji plants make lots of goji berries and freedom from expensive and restrictive overseas government and shipping policies. FREEDOM NOW from Big Fruit tyranny!!!
All for one and one for all. Join the Goji Manifesto. Unite for superfruit!
At last, something we can all agree on!
You can buy a goji plant from a nursery. But you can also grow healthy goji plants from plant cuttings or from seed.
Growing Goji Plants from Cuttings
Using 21st century plant propagation technology, I have developed healthy goji plant cuttings from strong, mature goji plants. These "bare root starts" are cuttings from a mature Goji plant. They have already formed roots. Goji naturally likes to send out runners, so cuttings readily take root. These starts grow quickly into large goji plants.
The goji plants I have are the species Lycium Barbarum (they have been genetically tested.)
Here is a happy goji cutting (or rooted cutting) with healthy roots ready to be planted in soil. The cuttings come with the roots encased in rock wool to keep them moist during shipping.
I will send you 3 rooted cuttings to make sure you have success in starting your goji hedge.
Any good quality gardening soil should work. However, add enough sand so that any excess of water can drain easily if possible. The ratio should be 1/3 sand to soil. Goji berries grow in an alkaline soil of a ph of 8.2 to 8.6 in their natural habitat.
I suggest planting your small Goji shrubs in 5 gallon buckets, with drain holes punched in the bottoms. That way you can move them around if you need to. The full size shrub can grow to 8 feet, and tends to be slightly wider than tall. However, they won't get that large in a bucket. This is because the plant stops growing once the roots hit bottom. Goji plant roots need to go deep. You want to create an environment where the roots can go deep rather than wide, and this is why a 5 gallon bucket works well.
It is better to start them inside. Once the plants have grown big and strong, you could plant them in a row outside, several feet apart. The goji plants will send out runners, and soon you will have a goji patch, so plan ahead for that.
The Goji plant is quite hardy. It likes full sun except in hot climates. What else would you expect from a plant that originated in the Himalayas?
How Quickly Can You Expect Your Own Berries?
Hopefully you’re not in a hurry for the berries. The shrubs don’t usually bear fruit until about the third year. But you can use the leaves in a salad while you wait. You’ll know your shrubs are about to bear fruit because you’ll start to get small purple/white trumpet flowers from summer until the first freeze.
You can get your Goji shrub to become more bushy by
nipping buds so that it forms more branches.
As your goji shrub grows, year after year, the berries will become larger and more nutritious. This is like the wine grape - older vines produce better grapes.
For 2 truly excellent articles by Donald R. Daugs about growing woflberries, click on these 2 links, especially the second one: Wolfberries: exceptional nutrition in a small package. Wolfberry update.
There are many places in England where wolfberry shrubs are used as hedges. They can be grown as a barrier along a road in place of a fence if desired.
[Trimming Goji Berry Bushes
But what if you don't want your Goji berry bushes, shrubs, trees etc. to be a unruly hedge? Well, then you've got to prune them!
Major pruning is done when the plant is dormant, except for dead, broken or diseased branches. It is also easier to see the shape of the bush at this time. In general you want a cylindrical plant that tops out at 6 feet tall, with branches spaced so that wind and sun can reach into all parts of the plant. Remove side branches that are within a foot of the ground.
However, you will also need to prune when the plant is growing to help it keep a cylindrical shape. The idea is to encourage horizontal growth and discourage vertical growth except for one main branch. In particular, any fresh branch that starts to grow straight up should be removed immediately.
Another thing to watch out for is root sprouts. These need to be cut out as soon as you can so that you don't end up with a unnavigatable bramble.
Growing Goji Plants from Seed
Each goji berry has about 30 tiny yellow seeds inside. They are smaller than tomato seeds. These seeds will germinated in about a week.
If you wish, you can simulate a
hard winter by freezing the berries for about a month. (You can also skip
Plant the germinated berries about half an inch down in starter pots, deeper for very large berries. In our experience, it
will take 10-14 days for them to start coming up. The first green shoot
will have leaves so tiny that you have to look very carefully to even see them.
The plant is adaptable once it sprouts.
When the rooted cuttings have outgrown their starter pots, you can put your small Goji
shrubs in 5 gallon buckets, with drain holes punched in the bottoms. That way
you can move them around if you need to. The full size shrub can grow to 8 feet,
and tends to be slightly wider than tall. However, they won't get that
large in a bucket. This is because the plant stops growing once the roots
You’ll probably want to be eating the berries while your Goji berry garden matures for a few years. After all, you’ll want to experience the powerful nutrition of the goji berries in the meantime. Why not buy more than just a few berries?
If you buy 9 pounds, that should last you about a year!
However, if you find yourself gulping them down because your body craves them,
this is a good thing, and you can buy more when you run out.
For more great information about Goji berries, including more Goji-growing tips, go to my Goji berries homepage.
P.S. As an avid gardener myself, I know what it's like to want to grow your own. But I also want to have the strength and energy to enjoy my gardening. There's nothing like the gentle buzz I get from eating a few handfuls of Goji Berries BEFORE I head out into the garden. By the time you've finished a 9 lb. bag, you'll know what I mean AND you'll be well on your way to growing your own crop of Goji Berries.