Did you know that you can grow your very own goji berries, those vibrant and nutrient-rich gems from the Himalayas and China?
That’s right, goji berries grow on perennial shrubs that can be easily grown in our regions. These super berries, also known as wolfberries, are renowned for their health benefits and sweet-tart flavor.
Just imagine having a supply of these superfoods right in your backyard!
In this article, we are going to unlock the secrets to successfully cultivating goji berries in your own garden. Stay tuned for more info. 🌿
Where To Grow Goji Berries
Since we know that these delicious berries originate from arid areas of East Asia, it’s easy to provide them with similar growing conditions. Dry, arid climates are all they need for proper growth.
Goji berries thrive in full sun, but you can provide them with some afternoon shade if you live in areas with extremely hot summers. The shade won’t help with fruiting, but it will reduce heat stress and leaf scorch.
This gorgeous shrub is generally drought-tolerant and can adapt to different soil types, although you should pay attention to the soil’s pH. It’s best to keep the pH levels between 6.5 to 8.0.
Goji shrubs grow best in sandy soils that are also well-draining, but they can generally grow in different soils. However, they won’t set as much fruit as they normally would.
Make sure that you have enough space for your goji – they have sprawling growth habits and can reach up to 8 feet tall.
When And How To Grow Them
When to grow goji berries depends on the hardiness zone that you live in. Gardeners that live in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9 have the best chances of successfully growing goji berries.
Keep in mind that they require hot, dry, and relatively long summers so that they receive maximum warmth and light. The ideal planting time for goji berries is between late summer and fall.
When planting them in fall, do so a few weeks before the first frost date. Make sure to protect young shrubs from cold temperatures. If your winters get cold, consider bringing your goji shrub indoors.
Goji berries are self-pollinating plants, so you don’t have to worry about pollinators. Still, you can introduce some companion plants that will boost each other’s growth. Some of them include tomatoes, raspberries, tomatillos, grapes, and blueberries.
If you are interested in tomato companion plants, read: The Best Companion Plants For Tomatoes & Which Ones To Avoid
How To Plant Goji Berries
If you have figured out when to plant your berries, it’s time to prepare the soil for them. We have already mentioned that these are relatively resilient; nonetheless, preparing the soil will give young plants a good start.
For instance, you can add some fish bone, well-rotted manure or some other organic material to improve the soil’s fertility. Loose soil is preferred as it will let the roots grow and spread. Remember to take over the area a few weeks before planting.
Start by digging a hole in the ground that is about the same depth, and almost twice as wide, as the tree’s root ball. You should add a small amount of slow-release fertilizer to the bottom of the hole.
Before you put the plant in, loosen up the roots. Then, place the plant in the hole and cover it with soil. If you are planting more than one goji shrub, make sure to leave 6 to 8 feet between them.
Water thoroughly and don’t let the soil dry out completely for the first few weeks after planting. Be patient and give your new goji plants some time to adapt to their new environment.
Don’t worry if it takes a few weeks for new growth to appear; it takes some time for their tap root to penetrate the earth.
How To Take Care Of Goji Berries
Once you’ve planted your goji shrubs, it’s quite easy to take care of them afterwards. You should pay close attention to sunshine, hydration, and warmth.
This is especially important during the first year of growth – young plants need consistent moisture but make sure not to overwater them. I would suggest you water them well during dry spells, but do so less when the soil retains moisture.
Avoid getting the leaves wet in order to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Once these shrubs are established, they are relatively tolerant to drought.
It’s important to fertilize your goji shrubs properly. They still need nutrients to produce those delicious berries – a balanced organic fertilizer in the spring is more than enough to encourage fruiting.
However, you can also apply another slow-release fertilizer in the fall as well. Don’t use anything above a 15-15-15 because these would give your plants more nutrients than they need. This leads to overfertilization, which can cause stunted growth and yellow leaves.
I would also recommend you to add mulch in the spring and once again in the fall – this will help with moisture retention and protect the plant’s roots from extreme weather conditions.
We have mentioned already that these shrubs have a sprawling growth habit, so in order to encourage upright growth and keep branches off the ground, use trellises or stakes.
How To Grow Goji Berries In Containers
Container gardening is always a good option if you don’t have enough space in your garden. Although it might be tricky to put these shrubs in containers, it doesn’t mean that it is not possible.
They adapt to their environments, so the shrubs and fruits may not be as prolific as they would be in the ground because their growth is restricted. The first thing you should do is get a large container that has drainage holes in the bottom.
Plant your goji in good-quality potting soil (you can also add some grit or perlite to improve drainage). Water the plant immediately after planting, but also continuously as the plant grows.
Make sure that the soil never dries out completely, but also be careful not to overwater it – simply water the plant once the top few inches of the soil feel dry.
Since they are grown in pots, there are no other sources of nutrients besides what you give to them; therefore, you should give them a liquid-based fertilizer once a month during the growing season.
Remember that these plants like sunshine and warmth, so keep them outdoors during the summer and during the winter months, you can keep them in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.
This video might be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyDOX7xXIE4
Common Problems With Goji Berries
If you don’t provide your goji berries with proper growing conditions, lots of issues might occur that will completely ruin the plant. For instance, bad air circulation and humidity fluctuations lead to powdery mildew and other fungal diseases.
These might be treated with fungicide or neem oil, though you might not have as much luck when it comes to root rot.
Pests like aphids and goji gall mites often munch on plants like this. If you see any affected leaves, immediately inspect them for pest infestation. Treat these with pesticides or neem oil. You can also introduce predatory insects like ladybugs and lacewings.
Also read: Watch Out For These 15 Common Garden Pests!