How to Grow Goji Berries

It’s a slow process to grow Goji berries from seed, but once plants are established, they are highly productive. Plants will produce some fruit in the second year of growth, but from year three on, each plant will provide for healthful harvests of Goji berries.

Latin
Lycium barbarum
Family: Solanaceae

Difficulty
Moderately difficult

Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 3-10 – Goji dislikes extreme cold or heat

Timing
Sow indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. That’s early to mid-February on the coast. It’s important to cultivate strong seedlings, so once the seeds sprout, use generous artificial light.

Starting
Sow 2 to 3 seeds in each pot, about 5mm (¼”) deep. Use a sterilized seed starting mix, and do not add fertilizer. Keep soil moist until seeds germinate, and then put under bright lights. After the third true leaf emerges, transplant each seedling on to its own individual pot. Gentle hardening off of seedlings is essential in order to avoid transplant shock.

Growing
Goji is a shrubby plant that can, in time, grow 1-3m (3-10′) tall. Growers space Goji plants 60cm (24″) apart in rows that are 2m (6′) apart. Spaced this way, 15 plants in a 30 foot row can produce up to 100 lbs of berries in a year. Goji is self pollinating, so even a single plant will produce fruit.

Goji is unusual in that it prefers relatively infertile, slightly alkaline soil with a pH range of 6.8 to 8.1. Goji reacts poorly to fertilizer and manure, so if you’re growing in a large container, use simple top soil with some perlite mixed in for drainage. Avoid peat-based soils.

If severe winter weather is expected, it is wise to mulch around the bases of your Goji plants, or move container plants into a cool but frost free area such as a garage.

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