Growing Goji Berries (Wolfberry):
How to Grow Goji Berries Organically

Growing goji berries (also known as wolfberries) is a great option for introducing the “superfood” fruits into your garden. Growing naturally in China and the Tibetan Himalayas, these red berries are packed with the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.

Once established, goji berries don’t need too much attention and are suitable for even the most inexperienced gardener.

Growing Goji Berries (Lycium Barbarum): Plant Snapshot

Growing Goji Berries
  • Group with crops from: n/a (perennial)
  • Low winter temperatures that damage fruit plants: -5 F (-15 C)
  • Time until plant bears fruit after planting: 2 years after planting small shrub plant
  • Approximate yield per plant: Up to 6.7 pounds (3 kg) depending on climate
  • Life of plant: Up to 90 years
  • Companion plants:
    • Companions: n/a
    • Avoid: Avoid planting near potatoes and tomatoes

Before you continue reading below, check out the following overview pages if you haven't done so already. They contain important general instructions that apply to most types of fruit trees...

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Planting Goji Berry Plants

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Goji berry plants are self pollinating so you won’t need to plant more than one.

Find a position in full sun, dig the ground over and add well-rotted organic compost a few weeks before planting. But don’t try and grow potatoes or tomatoes near your goji berries. This is because they are all part of the Solanaceae family and diseases such as blight are more likely to spread between them.

It’s best to buy a small shrub plant than attempt to grow from seed as these plants may not always fruit. Because of this you can plant your goji berry shrub at any time during the year as long as the ground isn’t frozen or flooded.

Dig a hole so that you can plant the shrub level with the soil. Firm the plant in with your heel after planting.

Add an additional mulch of 3 inches (7 cm) of well-rotted organic compost after planting. This will help the plant retain its moisture during the first few months of growth for the new plant. Feed with an organic seaweed liquid fertilizer as the flower buds appear.

Snapshot: Planting Goji Berries

  • Easiest to grow from: Two year old shrub
  • Planting timeframe range (varies by climate): Plant throughout the year avoiding freezing weather
  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.5 to 8.2
  • Spacing in rows: About 78 inches (200 cm)
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Caring for & Pruning Goji Berry Plants

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You’ll need to keep your goji shrub well-watered during its first year of growth. After this they will be drought-tolerant and need very little attention.

Your goji berries will develop on new growth which can be encouraged by pruning out any old or diseased stems each spring.

For bushier growth that will develop more berries, pinch out all the bush's branches in the spring. You can either pinch the soft growth between your fingers or use clean, sharp clippers or secateurs. Leaving your goji berry bush to grow long, weaker branches will result in less fruit.

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Harvesting Goji Berries

You can pick goji berries from mid-summer until late fall. Berries will be a deeper red as they ripen and their skins will look quite shiny. Ripe berries will come away very easily in your hand as you touch them.

Pick berries by hand, discarding any that are misshapen or bruised. Use a small pail for collecting the good ones. Don’t put more than two quarts (1.9 liters) into the same pail to avoid crushing them.

Snapshot: Harvesting Goji Berries

  • Time to harvest: Mid summer to late fall
  • Yield per plant/tree: 2 lbs (1 kg)
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Storing Goji Berries and Freezing Goji Berries

Drying goji berries is a great way to store berries that aren’t eaten fresh. You can add these to cereals or salads and make them into tea.

To dry them…

  1. Spread your goji berries on a baking sheet making sure they are not touching
  2. Set the oven to its lowest temperature and leave the door slightly open
  3. Bake the berries for up to 12 hours until they have dried
  4. Allow them to cool
  5. Store in an airtight jar

Berries stored in this was can last up to a year.

Snapshot: Storing Goji Berries & Freezing Goji Berries

  • Storage temperature: 32 to 40 F (0 to 4.4 C)
  • Storage life (dried): up to one year if dried but NOT refrigerated
  • Storage life (dried and refrigerated): up to two years if dried and refrigerated
  • Storage humidity: Less than 50%
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Growing Goji Berries: Pests & Diseases

Birds will try and eat your berries. After flowering you can cover the shrub with horticultural netting as the fruit forms to keep birds from stealing all your crops.

Other than attracting birds and other animals, goji berries are very pest- and disease-resistant. This makes them a very low maintenance plant. As mentioned previously, do not to plant them near potatoes or tomatoes as this may result in blight-type diseases.

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Goji Berries. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Birds
  • Mammals

Common Diseases

  • Blight
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YOUR Experience & Advice About Growing Goji Berries

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