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How to Grow Goji Berries (aka wolfberries)

What is a goji berry?

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries or lycium barbarum, are hardy plants that are drought tolerant and grow in zones 3-10 . A brightly colored orange/red fruit with a slightly sour flavor, they 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

You can start your goji berry adventure three ways. You can start by planting seeds, which will take the longest to bear fruit.

Alternatively, you can start by planting a root crown cutting, which 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.

Two ways to grow 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
  • With your bare root in the center of your pot, fill the container with potting soil up to the crown of the bare root (Avoid using peat moss as it’s too acidic). The crown is where the bare root starts. The crown should be the same level as the top of the soil.
  • Water the plant and add additional soil if the soil settles below the crown
  • Place in full sun
  • Keep the plant moist
  • Give the plant about an inch or two of water every week
  • Do not apply any nitrogen and they really don't need any fertilizer

Transplanting your Goji berry plant into the ground

After you see 6-8 inches of growth, your new Goji berry plant is ready for the ground, fiber pot and all. Follow these simple planting steps:

  • Locate a spot with full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade
  • Test the pH of the soil to be sure it’s between 6.8 and 8.1
  • If your pH is low, just add some oyster shell flour
  • Plant each Goji berry plant at least 2 feet apart
  • Goji berry plants can be trained like a grape vine on a trellis or left as a shrub

Note: Do not apply any nitrogen and they really don't need any fertilizer

How to prune a Goji berry plant

  • Don’t prune a Goji berry plant in the first year
  • In year 2, choose a main shoot and prune all others below it about 15” from the ground
  • When the plant reaches 2 feet tall in the summer, pinch out the growing tips to cause side branching where the fruit will be born
  • After your main structure is established, just prune back to the height you want to keep it
  • Always remove branches within 15” of the ground
  • Prune any unproductive branches
  • Thin out branches after the berry season 

Enjoy our collection of goji berry plants for sale!

Free Download Growing Guide

Goji Berry Planting and Growing Guide

42 comments

  • Andree, have you measured your soil pH and the levels of phosphorus in your soil? Usually when a plant does not produce flowers it is a problem with their nutrient levels in the soil, in particular, phosphorus. Goji berries also need a more alkaline soil than most plants. So combined with getting your soil pH correct and increasing your phosphorus, your plants should be producing more fruit the following year.

    Suzanne
  • I bought a gogi plant 5 years ago. I transplanted it in a larger pot that I burried in the ground (did not want it to spread like raspberries). It is in a sunny spot, near the rhubarb which is doing very well. I live in zone 5A.
    It greens very well in the spring but no flowers. This spring for the first time I saw very few white flowers but they produced no berry. Last year and this year I saw a few purple blooms at the end of August-beginning of September which of course will turn into nothing.
    Any suggestion or do I just throw it in despair? Thank you for any useful response.

    Andrée
  • Tish, a couple of things to consider, how is the pH of your soil. Goji berries like a more alkaline soil. Also how much phosphorus is in your soil? Plants need phosphorus to flower and produce fruit so you may be lacking that element. Maybe some bone meal. That will help raise the pH and also provide some phosphorus.

    Suzanne
  • Hi there. My goji berry was a potted plant I put in the garden 7 yrs ago. I’ve trimmed the bush but have had no berries. I’ve seen a few flowers but no nerries. It does make lots of baby plants that I pass on.
    Why no berries?
    Thank you.

    Tish
  • EMJ, I think they turn from green to red. However there are black goji berries. Do you know what varieties you planted? We sell the Phoenix Tears, which product red berries when ripe. They are hardy to zone 3, so they should be ok with a light frost. They do need more alkaline soil so you might want to check your soil’s pH and add some lime if your soil is too acidic.

    Suzanne
  • I have 2 goji berry bushes. One has berries, the other does not. Are the berries a really deep purple, almost black, before they turn red later in the season? Can they stand a light frost or should they be protected? I have not grown them before. Thanks for any input.

    EMJ
  • Chris, you really don’t need a support structure for your goji plant. It will grow into a shrub, large if planted in the ground and the soil conditions are right.

    Suzanne
  • What kind of trellis/climbing structure do I need for my Goji? Upright, cage, mesh? Right now it’s just a gangly little scrub on the ground and doesn’t appear to want to climb or bush. First year from a pot and it is fruiting.

    Chris
  • Jean Willoughby
    My friend planted the berry in London and it growing very well with good harvest. She gave a a stem and I having been reproducing.

    Annie
  • Jean, I am not sure if they grow in the UK. It would be best to consult your local nursery, since we do not ship outside of the US.

    Suzanne
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