Learn About Goji Berries

How to Sow

Goji berry: Potted Fruit Plant

How to Plant

Planting Potted Plants:

  • Plant in full sun in an area with well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5-7.0. Goji berry prefers a moist soil with several inches of organic matter or compost mixed in.
  • Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12 inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
  • The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure) benefits all gardens and is essential in recently constructed neighborhoods.
  • Space plants 6 feet apart.
  • Dig a hole at least 2 times the size of the root ball.
  • Set the plant in the hole so that the root ball is level with the surrounding soil, backfill and press the soil firmly into the hole cavity.
  • Water deeply. The water will seal off any air pockets around the root ball.
  • Use a stick or marker to indicate where the plant is planted.
  • The natural habit of goji berry is sprawling and creeping on the ground. Staking will save space and make harvesting easier. Select the strongest 3-4 vertical canes and bundle them around a sturdy stake (1 inch x 1 inch hard wood). Be careful as the stems have thorns.

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients. Control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
  • Mulch around the plants to a depth of 2-3 inches or organic matter to preserve moisture and prevent weeds. For fruit plants an organic mulch of aged bark or shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
  • Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
  • In spring, before any leaves sprout, apply a granular fertilizer following the instructions on the label. Most new growth will come from the plant’s crown from under the soil. Plants use a lot of energy in spring when new growth begins, so do not let plants dry out.
  • Monitor for Pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
  • Protect fruit crops with bird netting as they approach
  • Goji berries are thorny so wear gloves when working with them.
  • Goji berries do not need to be pruned; however old branches (over three year old) can be removed in the spring as soon the buds begin to break. Remove any suckers growing from the roots.

Growing tips

Harvest and Preserving Tips

  • Protect fruit with bid netting.
  • Harvest time starts in early summer and continues until frost.
  • Fruits should be picked when they are perfectly red and taste sweet. They come off easily.
  • Do not store berries that are wet.
  • Fresh berries can last a week in the refrigerator or will freeze well.

Common Pests and Problems

Anthracnose: This is a fungus disease that attacks the fruit as it is ripening. The first visible sign is a circular spot on the skin that is slightly sunken. The spots enlarge and turn black; the fruit rots. Extended periods of heat and humidity facilitate anthracnose growth. The fungus overwinters in diseased plant debris. Burpee Recommends: Plant resistant varieties, provide sufficient space between plants for good air circulation, avoid overhead watering which can spread the fungus spores, keep a clean garden, remove and discard all diseased plant material and rotate crops. Use a mulch to prevent spores from splashing from the soil onto plants.

Blight: Blight is a very common disease which causes brown concentric rings to appear on the lower leaves. The spots coalesce; the leaf turns brown and may drop off the stem. Leaf drop moves up the stem. Fruit does not grow to full size and is left exposed to possible sunburn/sunscald. This fungus overwinters in plant debris and the fungus is air-borne and can spread from diseased plants growing nearby. Burpee Recommends: Practice good garden hygiene at the end of the season and discard, do not compost, possibly diseased plants. Space plants to allow for adequate air circulation. Avoid overhead watering which may spread fungus spores.

Powdery Mildew occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Japanese Beetles: Burpee Recommends: Hand pick early in the morning into a bucket of soapy water.

Leafhoppers: Leafhoppers cause injury to leaves and stunt growth. They also spread disease. Burpee Recommends: Remove plant debris. Use insecticidal soaps. Consult your Cooperative Extension Service for other insecticide recommendations.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.

Thrips: Thrips are tiny needle-thin insects that are black or straw colored. They suck the juices of plants and attack flower petals, leaves and stems. The plant will have a stippling, discolored flecking or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips can spread many diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Many thrips may be repelled by sheets of aluminum foil spread between rows of plants. Remove weeds from the bed and remove debris from the bed after frost. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls.

FAQ

Do I need two different goji berry varieties to get fruit?  No, goji berries are self-pollinating.

Will I get fruit the first year? No. Expect the first fruit in 2 years after planting and 3-5 years after planting for full fruit.

Do gogi berries have thorns? Yes, they do.

How do I protect my goji berries from birds? Birds love goji berries are will eat them before they are ripe. To ensure a good harvest cover plants with bird netting.

Are the leaves edible? Yes, you can harvest young leaves for soups.

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