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Goji Berries - An Antioxidant Beauty in Your Garden

By on January 29, 2013

Grow your own colorful source of antioxidants. Goji berry bushes are hardy to USDA zone 3.

You can grow Goji berries in your home garden instead of buying berries imported from overseas.

planting goji berries in containers

Goji berries grow well in containers and in your garden soil. In our video Tricia plants them both ways.

Goji berries fit easily into your garden, since you can grow them in or out of containers, prune them as bushes, or train them on trellises.

Goji berries don’t like acid soil. If you live in an area where rhododendrons and camellias thrive, then you probably have slightly acid soil. Check your soil pH; a number under 7 is more acidic and over 7 is more alkaline. If you have acid soil you can add oyster shell to make it more alkaline or simply grow the Goji berries in containers with more neutral, pre-mixed, organic potting soil.

There are lots of reasons to grow goji berries. High in antioxidants, they can also be a pretty addition to your garden with their purple flowers followed by red-orange fruits. The Goji berry variety that we carry is almost thornless, which makes picking the berries a pleasure.

If you don’t polish off all the berries out in your garden, and some make it back to your kitchen, you can use their sweet and tart flavor to add zing to cereal, breads, muffins, salads, and drinks.

drying goji berries with excalibur

Dry Goji berries and use them like raisins, for snacking and cooking. Here are Goji berries, ready to go into an Excalibur dehydrator. Dehydrating or freezing are the preferred ways to preserve these delicate berries.

Don’t forget the leaves, which have even more antioxidants than the berries. Goji berry plants lose their leaves in the fall, so be sure to pick them before the first frost. Use them fresh as a savory addition to stir fries or salads, or dry them in a dehydrator. The dried leaves can also be crushed for a powder.

Bring drought-tolerant Goji berries into your home garden and bring more antioxidants to your table.

  Comments (74)

M

What about deer? do they eat goji bushes?

Posted by Mary on Feb. 02, 2013 at 10:37:50 AM

Mary, Like most berries, Goji berries are not deer-resistant. You would need to grow them in a fenced area, cover them with netting, or spray them with a deer repellant.

Currants are deer-resistant, and so are artichokes and rhubarb. Details here http://groworganic.com/organic-gardening/articles/currants-are-the-edible-almost-everyone-can-grow

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Feb. 02, 2013 at 10:57:43 AM

S

Do you know a good source for the goji berry plants?

Posted by Suzanne on Feb. 02, 2013 at 12:49:19 PM

S

I live in Phoenix. Would they survive here? Thanks.

Posted by Sherry on Feb. 02, 2013 at 1:57:50 PM

P

In the photo with the berries on the Excaliber dehydrater sheet, one may wish to “spread” the berries out a bit more in order to obtain a more constant heat/air flow across the berries on the sheet.  It has been my experience with the Excaliber dehydrator that having the food items, in this case Goji berries, spread across the sheet and not bunched together will aid the dehydration process.
Just a suggestion…

Posted by Paul Chinski on Feb. 02, 2013 at 3:56:18 PM

B

do you sell or where to buy goji stoc to grow in zone 8.5 Florida?

Posted by barbara lowell on Feb. 02, 2013 at 6:31:24 PM

Sherry, Goji berries do well in temperatures up to 100F http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/081218.html

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Feb. 02, 2013 at 11:04:35 PM

Suzanne and barbara lowell, We carry Goji berry plants and they will grow in zone 8a & zone 8b in Florida http://www.groworganic.com/seasonal-items/berry-plants/goji-berries.html

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Feb. 02, 2013 at 11:06:41 PM

Paul Chinski, Thank you for your excellent advice!

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Feb. 02, 2013 at 11:07:32 PM

R

I see they are drought tolerant. How bout Oregon

Posted by Renee on Feb. 04, 2013 at 6:17:37 AM

Renee, Goji berries should grow well in Oregon as long as you are in USDA zone 3 or warmer.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Feb. 04, 2013 at 8:11:07 AM

P

You say in this video that Goji berries are related to tomatoes and eggplants.  Does that mean that Goji berries are a nightshade?

Posted by Paula Jo on Feb. 23, 2013 at 11:48:16 AM

Paula Jo, Yes, Goji berries are in the nightshade family http://www.clemson.edu/cafls/cuchefs/files/acai_and_goji_berries.pdf

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Feb. 23, 2013 at 1:35:15 PM

W

what size smart pot would you recommend as a permanent home for a goji berry bush?

Posted by wendy on Mar. 08, 2013 at 2:14:09 PM

Wendy, A 30 gallon SmartPot would give you more room roots (and so, more berries). Goji berry plants have a long tap root, so the Smart Pot should be as deep as a five gallon bucket. This 30 gallon Smart Pot would work well http://www.groworganic.com/smart-pot-30-gal.html

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Mar. 08, 2013 at 2:27:20 PM

S

Is it nessisary to buy plants or can you grow them from seed.  Also, what about pollination?  Do you need more than one plant?  Do you need more than one variety?  Thanks for your help.

Posted by Saralee Couchoud on Apr. 24, 2013 at 8:14:16 AM

Saralee, Goji can be grown from seed, but it takes up to 6 weeks for the seed to sprout.  During that time period they need to be kept moist and warm.

Goji are self fertile, but if grown inside where there are no insects or wind for dispersal within the plant it might need pollination assistance.

Since they are self-fertile there is no need for more than one variety.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Apr. 29, 2013 at 11:18:27 AM

E

I’ve had a goji growing in a fairly large bucket for 3 years.  It’s in a greenhouse with open windows, so I don’t think pollination shouldn’t be a problem, but it is in shade for much of the afternoon.  The plant is over 6 feet tall with lots of branches, but I’ve never seen a berry yet.  DOes it take a few years, or am I doing something wrong?

Posted by Elizabeth Raybee on Jun. 02, 2013 at 6:07:30 PM

Elizabeth, Goji are sun lovers, so I cringe a little when I read it is in the shade much of the day. Can that be rectified? Your flowering - hence fruit - is probably affected by the amount of sunlight it is receiving. Goji will usually produce fruit sometime within the first three years; those in containers sooner than those in garden beds. 

Other than the sunlight issue, your soil might be lacking in phosphate.  Goji do not usually need fertilizing like other fruits, but if there is no phosphate the bush may be having difficulty pushing buds.

You are not on the outside limit of when a newer bush will produce, so if you can remedy the light issue, hopefully the goji berries will come.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jun. 03, 2013 at 12:00:34 PM

J

Do Goji berries have chill hour requirements to produce fruit?

Posted by Jeremy on Jun. 13, 2013 at 7:03:34 AM

Jeremy, The USDA zones for goji berries are 3-10, but no one seems to know yet about their chill hours (they are such a new crop in the U.S.).

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jun. 13, 2013 at 11:01:58 AM

C

Jeremy, More news on chill hours! A goji berry expert says they do not need chill hours and produce year round in warm climates.

Posted by Charlotte, Peaceful Valley on Jun. 14, 2013 at 9:48:40 AM

M

Hi there, my plant is about 7 feet in a six and a half gallon pot.  Since April the flowers with the buds keep falling off ..  it’s in organic soil and I live in sunny SOCAL.  Would you be able to offer any insight as to why this is happening?? Thank you and great site!

Posted by Manny G. on Jun. 14, 2013 at 10:26:44 AM

Manny, Usually bud loss is due to stress. Since goji are self-fertile it cannot be blamed on lack of pollenizers. You may be overwatering since these plants like moist soil, but can experience root damage if too wet.  Alternating high heats with sudden, cool nights can also stress them. I wish I had a definitive answer, but if neither of these issues relate to your situation, consider other stresses that may be affecting the plant. 

Since goji can produce as early as their first year, your tree appears to be mature enough to bear fruit. 

And, as a word of caution, do not add manure or fertilizer thinking it will assist with this situation—it may make it significantly worse.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jun. 17, 2013 at 10:36:32 AM

M

I have recently ordered Goji berries.  They have not yet arrived.  I live in Maine.  When is the best time of the year to grow them?

Posted by Michele on Jul. 09, 2013 at 2:03:43 PM

Michele,

Goji berries are like other berries—they flower in spring and fruit in summer. We sell bareroot Goji berries in the winter, for planting while they are dormant. http://www.groworganic.com/seasonal-items/berry-plants/goji-berries.html

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jul. 09, 2013 at 3:19:22 PM

C

How about Canada? Do they need to be indoors? Will they survive Candadian winters?

Posted by Caroline on Aug. 26, 2013 at 3:10:19 PM

Caroline, Goji are hardy to -40F or -40C. Is your climate colder than that in winter? If so, you could try to grow them indoors and take them outside in the summer. You can see in Elizabeth’s comment above that she has been growing a goji in a container in her greenhouse.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:40:21 PM

I

Can you grow Goji in whiskey barrels? I am in Zone

Posted by Iris Stewart on Oct. 17, 2013 at 10:34:24 AM

Iris, Your message cut off before I could see the zone, but Gojis are hardy to zone 3. How many gallons is a whiskey barrel? The Goji has a long tap root and needs at least as much depth as in a 5 gallon bucket. If you want to try another container, a 30 gallon SmartPot would give you room for roots (and so, more berries) http://www.groworganic.com/smart-pot-30-gal.html

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Oct. 17, 2013 at 10:51:46 AM

A

What kind of yield can be expected from a single plant in a 30 gallon SmartPot? I see one can expect berries in Year 1, how will that yield vary from Year 3?  Based on what I have read above, Zone 7B through 10 are no problem.  What variation in results might one expect between the two zones, respectively? Thanks

Posted by Andrew on Oct. 24, 2013 at 1:54:01 PM

Andrew, Yes, goji usually will yield in the first year and that is dependent as for all yields on numerous variables.  The goji will probably have at least 3 branches in the first year and they will continue to send out flowers and more berries along the whip throughout the season as long as those variables are suitable.  The number of branches will increase annually, with the number usually doubling the second year.  Estimates for production of goji is approximately 6.5 pounds/bush annually.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Dec. 20, 2013 at 12:03:40 PM

N

Hi,  I see seedlings for sale and also mature root cuttings.  Which is best?  Supplier for zone 5.  Thanks

Posted by nancy pyeha on Jan. 03, 2014 at 7:43:46 AM

Hello Nancy,

It depends on what you want to do with them. I personally would go with the mature root cuttings because they are less delicate to ship and will fruit their first year in the ground.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jan. 15, 2014 at 9:58:54 AM

L

Hi. Love this!  I would like to purchase a couple of your mature root cuttings for our home garden in central MN (zone 4).  Can you reccomend when I should purchase and plant in the ground?  Thank you!

Posted by Lacee on Jan. 15, 2014 at 11:30:07 AM

Hello Lacee,

Right now is the time. We are shipping root cuttings right now. You’ll have the best success starting them in a gallon pulp pot and then planting them out in the spring. Good luck!

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jan. 15, 2014 at 3:08:04 PM

P

Your site is awesome. I’ve been growing vegetables and flowers organically for the last 7 years. Is there a variety which is totally thornless? Thank You!

Posted by Pamela on Apr. 08, 2014 at 9:54:35 AM

Hello Pamela,

Phoenix Tears is a nearly thornless variety. You can minimize thorns by proper pruning. I haven’t heard of a totally thornless variety.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Apr. 08, 2014 at 10:18:41 AM

S

I live in phoenix and it gets to be over 100 for most of the summer (it was 106 today). Will goji berries survive this intense daily heat? I plant to grow them upwards as a vine along my brick fence.

Posted by Sarah on May. 27, 2014 at 8:48:56 PM

Hello Sarah,

The mother plant of the Phoenix Tears cultivar lived for decades alone in the western desert of Utah so it might be ok. I’d say it’s worth a try. What kind of exposure does the brick wall have? If it’s a southern exposure it might get too toasty.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on May. 28, 2014 at 2:37:25 PM

K

Hi!

I have a huge gogi berry bush growing in my yard.  They are very hardy and are quickly taking over in other parts of the yard. 
My question is regarding dehydrating….
At what temp to you dehydrate them and for approx how long?  I have an Excalibur, but have been unsuccessful drying the berries.  They just seem to ooze out the juice from inside the berry and become sticky.

Posted by Kerry on Aug. 08, 2014 at 9:31:44 AM

D

Hi! Can anyone tell me if they need any special treatment before they are put in the Excalibur Dehydrator and how hong I should put them on to dry? Also what is the best storage method once dried and what is the expected shelf life? Thanks so much!

Posted by Deb Holdsworth on Aug. 17, 2014 at 3:11:23 PM

Not sure what temperature you were using but maybe it was too high. The juice/water oozing out lends me to this conclusion. Try a lower temperature and spreading out the berries so there is adequate air flow. The setting would be similar to grapes or currants. Hope this helps.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Aug. 19, 2014 at 9:28:33 AM

S

I would like to know what to do with goji berry plants in containers during winter? Do you need to bring them into the house? Do you need to water them in winter? Does it make a difference if you were to use smart pots or the usual plastic /clay pots?

Posted by Sylvia on Aug. 31, 2014 at 10:53:19 AM

Goji berries are very cold tolerant, so if they are growing in the ground, just leave them and put a thick layer of mulch to protect them through the winter. I would do the same if in a pot. We actually have one growing in a smart pot here in our nursery and it does quite well through our winters. You don’t need to water, it goes dormant.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Sep. 04, 2014 at 5:14:31 PM

S

The top half of the wonderfully sturdy main shoot of my new goji was broken off. Do I choose a different leader (like if the same thing happened to a tree) or hope for good shoots to come up from the original main one?

Posted by Sheri on Sep. 05, 2014 at 5:24:31 PM

A

I have a small goji berry bush which produces a nice bowl of berries this year -  it’s first year.  However, the leaves of the goji bush look diseased.  They have little bumps, or pockmarks, they crumple and eventually fall off.  The berries however look healthy and taste fine.  The bush is planted near a Japanese maple tree on one side and some holly bushes on the other side.  Some currant bushes are nearby too.  Can you suggest what could be causing the leaf problem?

Posted by Anna on Sep. 21, 2014 at 6:21:06 PM

C

I bought a small goji plant from my local garden show last spring and it has taken off in my large pot in full sun (Deep South zone 9). There have been loads of flowers but no fruit - most sites say it won’t fruit for 2 or 3 years. I’m wondering if I should try to trellis it (it has a wild fountain shape now), and whether I should fertilize, and when. Also, will it be ugly this winter when it loses its leaves?

Posted by Cynthia on Sep. 27, 2014 at 8:22:29 AM

Goji berries are very vigorous growers and will produce lateral shoots off the main stem.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Oct. 07, 2014 at 10:42:09 AM

I cannot diagnose your diseased goji without seeing photos of the plant. The plant prefers to be in full sun and requires a higher pH soil (over 6.8). Usually when plants start getting problems with fungal diseases, the growing conditions are too moist. Do you do any overhead watering? If so, I would advise to stop and water the soil, not the leaves of the plant. Hope this helps a little.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Oct. 07, 2014 at 12:17:02 PM

I have a goji in a pot on my deck and it started flowering and fruiting in late August/early September. It does not need to grow on a trellis since it is a bush. You may want to stake it until the plant get strong enough to stand up on its own. Do not over fertilize, you may not get any fruit. The plant will drop its leaves in the winter.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Oct. 07, 2014 at 2:13:26 PM

E

Talked to several people with experience growing in zone 4.  They suggest growing indoors for first 3 or 4 years before transplanting outdoors, lots of straw in winter.

Posted by Edward Kimble on Nov. 20, 2014 at 6:22:26 PM

M

I would like to make a row of goji near my potato bed. I read they are both in the nightshade family…will this be ok?

Posted by Mary Ann on Jan. 23, 2015 at 9:16:05 AM

The goji berries may like a higher pH than the potatoes. They like a pH over 6.8, more on the alkaline side and potatoes like a more acidic soil, pH 5-7. So they may not like being next to each other.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jan. 30, 2015 at 4:42:41 PM

L

I planted a few goji from the seeds (fruits) I got from you guys last year.  Would like to put them in my raised bed in a couple of weeks. Read different suggestions on the Internet on what kind of soil to use, they say no manure, no compost, etc., I’m confused. What kind of soil should I use?

Posted by L on Mar. 19, 2015 at 11:42:30 PM

For successful growth, is critical that the soil pH remain at 6.8 or higher. High nitrogen is not recommended for these plants. So that is probably why it is not recommended to use manure. I am not sure about compost, unless it is hot (high nitrogen), you can mix compost with your soil. The pH of the soil is very important, especially if you live in areas with acidic soil. Hope that helps.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Mar. 25, 2015 at 11:32:28 AM

L

Thank you so much for this great site.  My question is:  How do I prune my goji bush, if at all?  And if so, when is the best time to do so?

Posted by Lissa Murray on Apr. 21, 2015 at 9:47:53 PM

You can prune your goji berry as a bush or train as a tree. The first year, do not prune it at all, let it grow. Prune the plant before it flowers and do any maintenance pruning in the winter. Here is a website that gives you a step-by-step on pruning your goji berry. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/prune-goji-63858.html

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Apr. 23, 2015 at 3:44:31 PM

S

I am just starting a veggie & fruit garden, so about all I have growing is grass, clover and some ivy Is there any way to tell soil Ph without having to purchase some kit? Oh, and alfalfa coming up from feeding goats I no longer have. Thanks

Posted by Suzanne G on May. 14, 2015 at 4:46:00 PM

There is not a way to tell the pH of your soil without doing some testing. You can purchase some litmus papers. They are inexpensive and will give you a rough estimate of the pH of your soil.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on May. 15, 2015 at 10:25:34 AM

J

Hello Suzanna from Uzbekistan,  as it is difficult to get the plants here i started growing them by seeds? i had couple kg of fruits imported from china and the fruits are different , what do you think, will they be different type of berry and is there a possibility that they may not bear a fruit if it is a fruit from a hybrid or treated seed?  Thanks in advance

Posted by Jasurbek Rustamov on Jun. 24, 2015 at 3:12:49 PM

There are different varieties of goji berries and just not sure whether of not they are treated or a hybrid. Sorry I can’t be more help.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jun. 25, 2015 at 10:25:00 AM

L

I spotted flowers on my goji that I planted last year from seeds. There are white and purple flowers on the same branch. Is that normal or is there something wrong?

Posted by L on Jul. 04, 2015 at 11:49:05 AM

The flowers start out purple and most likely the white ones are just older and faded out purple flowers. I don’t think anything is wrong with your plant.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jul. 06, 2015 at 12:27:57 PM

M

My Goji berries are two years old - I had about 11 plants and am now down to 4. I wish self proclaimed experts, those who sell
the berries and anyone who posts the “how to” would get on the same page. I have read warnings not to fertilize or mulch and that Goji need alkaline soil and then others say slightly acid. It has rained a lot here and most of my plants are out of nitrogen, I have no idea if I should give them some or not - I am afraid to do anything, and hate to see them continue to die..

Posted by Marie Olsen on Jul. 08, 2015 at 2:10:09 PM

L

After my goji flowers went from purple to white and then to brown, then the whole flower including the stem would fall off.  It doesn’t seem like any of them were able to be pollinated successfully.  They are in the middle of my garden, full sun, windy.  What could be the problem?  These are planted last year from the seeds from you guys.

Posted by L on Jul. 10, 2015 at 1:43:17 PM

Marie, I am sorry to hear you are having problems with your Goji berry. The plant will grow in a pH range from 6.8 to 8.1. Anything less than 6.8, will be too acidic. Did you do an analysis on your soil for nitrogen? I would feed it a well balanced fertilizer, that is not too high in nitrogen. Also you spoke of a lot of rain, how is the drainage where they are planted? They won’t like sitting in water, so make sure you have good drainage. Do you have gophers? They can damage roots of plants which will in turn cause the plant to fail.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jul. 14, 2015 at 12:37:11 PM

L, since you just planted these from seed last year, it is not unusual that they are not setting fruit. I would give them at least another year to grow and establish themselves.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jul. 14, 2015 at 1:53:54 PM

C

HI. I planted a Goji Berry tree about 4 years ago in my flower garden in northern California. Sunny but part shade, well fertilized and well watered, all surrounding flowers are lush, flowering, gorgeous. Goji has not grown one inch in 4 years. It is alive, green, but still a three foot tall sapling. It did put out a thimble full of berries one year but nothing for a couple of years. It just sits there. I don’t want to transplant since I understand the tap root can be very long. What can I do to stimulate some growth in this tree?

Posted by Christine Dec on May. 23, 2016 at 3:02:43 AM

Christine, Do know what the pH of your soil is? Goji berries like alkaline soil and may not perform well if your soil is too acidic. I would suggest finding out what your pH is and if too acidic adjust your pH with some lime. It may do better once you make the adjustment.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on May. 24, 2016 at 1:01:15 PM

N

How do you freeze Goji berries and can you grow them indoors in a state like NJ during the winter months/  Will they continue to produce when you bring them inside or will they go dormant?  If they go dormant, what are the watering directions during that period?  If I have them in pots outside, can I leave them out there during the winter?  Are they better in the ground?  If they remain outside, how should they be prepped for the winter.

Hopefully you can provide some assistance to my myriad of questions and I thank you in advance for any response at all as well as your patience for bearing with this lenghty request.

Have a great day,

Norm

Posted by Norm on Sep. 21, 2016 at 7:11:38 AM

Norm, from what I have read about freezing goji berries, place them in a plastic bag and lay flat in the freezer. This keeps them from sticking together. The plant will go dormant in the winter. If in pots you can leave them out in the winter, they are hardy down to zone 3 (after established). The put out a long tap root so they will be happier in the soil. But they prefer a more alkaline soil so you may have to amend with some lime if your soil is acidic. To prep for the winter, I would mulch heavily around the plant. Otherwise, they are pretty easy to grow.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on Sep. 21, 2016 at 11:02:16 AM

S

do goji berries have to be protected from gophers?
If I have a berm near a small greenhouse, covered with mulch could I plant them directly into it?

Posted by Sharon Harrison on Nov. 02, 2016 at 11:03:40 AM

Sharon, I have not heard about gophers really going after goji berries, but to be safe you can always plant it in a gopher basket. Also remember that goji berries like more alkaline soil, so make sure your pH is correct.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on Nov. 03, 2016 at 9:15:37 AM

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