Also known as the “Big Lifeberry,” the Goji Berry plant is one of the easiest plants you can grow once it is established. They can be grown in either full or part sun, but prefers full sun and well drained soil. The rate of their growth is quite fast and soon you will see a beautiful purple blossom come up in your late spring garden. They are called the Goji “Berry” plant because they produce a beautiful red berry that, as you will learn in another article, contains many health benefits. Even though they grow to a height of 5 to 6 feet, they can also be grown in containers, outside on a patio or in a sunny window.
If grown outside,Goji berries will tolerate zones 3 through 10 as they are very cold and heat tolerant and once established, will also tolerate a certain amount of drought, but since it is a plant that produces a fruit, you are recommended to water it on a regular basis. Too little water can cause stress and keep your Goji from producing flowers and fruits. Since the Goji is considered a deciduous plant, it will lose its leaves usually right after the first frost hits. Even though the Goji will adjust to most any soil, you will receive the best results if the pH stays between 6.8 to 8.1.
You can either test the soil yourself or take a sample to be tested to your local Department of Agriculture. If the pH needs to be higher, use lime and if the pH needs to be lower, use aluminum sulfate. Even though the plant grows to a height of 5 to 6 feet, they can still be grown in containers because once the roots touch the bottom of the planter, the plant will stop growing. Whether grown in the garden or in a container, it is best to use strong stakes and gently tie up the long canes to make harvesting the berry a bit easier. Since the Goji blooms on new wood, you should prune the lateral branches to both encourage more new growth and make the plant easier to manage. Once the berries appear, they will attract all kinds of wildlife, so unless you are growing the plant in a container, you might consider protecting the plant by using bird netting around it. Sprays are not recommended unless they are vegetable safe.
The Goji will usually not produce fruit until the third season, but if they are grown in a container, you might see fruit in the first or second season. The fruit is a beautiful bright red berry that is juicy, sweet and will get even sweeter the longer they remain on the plant to mature, so as tempting as it is, try not to pick the berries until they fully mature. Because the plant is cold tolerant, it will produce flowers and berries until well after the first frost. If you buy your Goji plant at a nursery, repot it into a larger planter, set it in a sunny window and allow it to get established before moving them outside. If container growing outside, you will want to provide the plant with about an inch or two of mulch to help retain moisture.
Fertilizing is important and should be done in early spring just after you see new growth start to appear. The best fertilizer for your Goji plant is rose fertilizer or anything that is used for woody plants. If growing more than one Goji plant outside in the garden, be sure to plant them 5 to 7 feet apart to allow plenty of room for growth and to make harvesting the berries easier.