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Goji berries—antioxidant beauty in your home garden

Jan 29, 2013 -
   
  Goji berries—antioxidant beauty in your home garden
Grow your own colorful source of antioxidants. Goji berry bushes are hardy to USDA zone 3.
 
   

You can grow Goji berries in your home garden instead of buying berries imported from overseas.

planting goji berries in containers

Goji berries grow well in containers and in your garden soil. In our new video Tricia plants them both ways.

Goji berries fit easily into your garden, since you can grow them in or out of containers, prune them as bushes, or train them on trellises.

Goji berries don’t like acid soil. If you live in an area where rhododendrons and camellias thrive, then you probably have slightly acid soil. Check your soil pH; a number under 7 is more acidic and over 7 is more alkaline. If you have acid soil you can add oyster shell to make it more alkaline or simply grow the Goji berries in containers with more neutral, pre-mixed, organic potting soil.

There are lots of reasons to grow goji berries. High in antioxidants, they can also be a pretty addition to your garden with their purple flowers followed by red-orange fruits. The Goji berry variety that we carry is almost thornless, which makes picking the berries a pleasure.

If you don’t polish off all the berries out in your garden, and some make it back to your kitchen, you can use their sweet and tart flavor to add zing to cereal, breads, muffins, salads, and drinks.

drying goji berries with excalibur

Dry Goji berries and use them like raisins, for snacking and cooking. Here are Goji berries, ready to go into an Excalibur dehydrator. Dehydrating or freezing are the preferred ways to preserve these delicate berries.

Don’t forget the leaves, which have even more antioxidants than the berries. Goji berry plants lose their leaves in the fall, so be sure to pick them before the first frost. Use them fresh as a savory addition to stir fries or salads, or dry them in a dehydrator. The dried leaves can also be crushed for a powder.

Bring drought-tolerant Goji berries into your home garden and bring more antioxidants to your table.


Categories: Berry Plants, Goji Berries, Food Processing & Preservation, Food Dehydrator, Container Gardening, Edible Landscaping, Urban Gardening & farming


Mary Says:
Feb 2nd, 2013 at 11:37 am

What about deer? do they eat goji bushes?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 2nd, 2013 at 11:57 am

Mary, Like most berries, Goji berries are not deer-resistant. You would need to grow them in a fenced area, cover them with netting, or spray them with a deer repellant.

Currants are deer-resistant, and so are artichokes and rhubarb. Details here http://groworganic.com/organic-gardening/articles/currants-are-the-edible-almost-everyone-can-grow

Suzanne Says:
Feb 2nd, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Do you know a good source for the goji berry plants?

Sherry Says:
Feb 2nd, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I live in Phoenix. Would they survive here? Thanks.

Paul Chinski Says:
Feb 2nd, 2013 at 4:56 pm

In the photo with the berries on the Excaliber dehydrater sheet, one may wish to “spread” the berries out a bit more in order to obtain a more constant heat/air flow across the berries on the sheet.  It has been my experience with the Excaliber dehydrator that having the food items, in this case Goji berries, spread across the sheet and not bunched together will aid the dehydration process.
Just a suggestion…

barbara lowell Says:
Feb 2nd, 2013 at 7:31 pm

do you sell or where to buy goji stoc to grow in zone 8.5 Florida?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 3rd, 2013 at 12:04 am

Sherry, Goji berries do well in temperatures up to 100F http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/081218.html

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 3rd, 2013 at 12:06 am

Suzanne and barbara lowell, We carry Goji berry plants and they will grow in zone 8a & zone 8b in Florida http://www.groworganic.com/seasonal-items/berry-plants/goji-berries.html

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 3rd, 2013 at 12:07 am

Paul Chinski, Thank you for your excellent advice!

Renee Says:
Feb 4th, 2013 at 7:17 am

I see they are drought tolerant. How bout Oregon

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 4th, 2013 at 9:11 am

Renee, Goji berries should grow well in Oregon as long as you are in USDA zone 3 or warmer.

Paula Jo Says:
Feb 23rd, 2013 at 12:48 pm

You say in this video that Goji berries are related to tomatoes and eggplants.  Does that mean that Goji berries are a nightshade?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 23rd, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Paula Jo, Yes, Goji berries are in the nightshade family http://www.clemson.edu/cafls/cuchefs/files/acai_and_goji_berries.pdf

wendy Says:
Mar 8th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

what size smart pot would you recommend as a permanent home for a goji berry bush?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Mar 8th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Wendy, A 30 gallon SmartPot would give you more room roots (and so, more berries). Goji berry plants have a long tap root, so the Smart Pot should be as deep as a five gallon bucket. This 30 gallon Smart Pot would work well http://www.groworganic.com/smart-pot-30-gal.html

Saralee Couchoud Says:
Apr 24th, 2013 at 8:14 am

Is it nessisary to buy plants or can you grow them from seed.  Also, what about pollination?  Do you need more than one plant?  Do you need more than one variety?  Thanks for your help.

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Apr 29th, 2013 at 11:18 am

Saralee, Goji can be grown from seed, but it takes up to 6 weeks for the seed to sprout.  During that time period they need to be kept moist and warm.

Goji are self fertile, but if grown inside where there are no insects or wind for dispersal within the plant it might need pollination assistance.

Since they are self-fertile there is no need for more than one variety.

Elizabeth Raybee Says:
Jun 2nd, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I’ve had a goji growing in a fairly large bucket for 3 years.  It’s in a greenhouse with open windows, so I don’t think pollination shouldn’t be a problem, but it is in shade for much of the afternoon.  The plant is over 6 feet tall with lots of branches, but I’ve never seen a berry yet.  DOes it take a few years, or am I doing something wrong?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Jun 3rd, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Elizabeth, Goji are sun lovers, so I cringe a little when I read it is in the shade much of the day. Can that be rectified? Your flowering - hence fruit - is probably affected by the amount of sunlight it is receiving. Goji will usually produce fruit sometime within the first three years; those in containers sooner than those in garden beds. 

Other than the sunlight issue, your soil might be lacking in phosphate.  Goji do not usually need fertilizing like other fruits, but if there is no phosphate the bush may be having difficulty pushing buds.

You are not on the outside limit of when a newer bush will produce, so if you can remedy the light issue, hopefully the goji berries will come.

Jeremy Says:
Jun 13th, 2013 at 7:03 am

Do Goji berries have chill hour requirements to produce fruit?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Jun 13th, 2013 at 11:01 am

Jeremy, The USDA zones for goji berries are 3-10, but no one seems to know yet about their chill hours (they are such a new crop in the U.S.).

Charlotte, Peaceful Valley Says:
Jun 14th, 2013 at 9:48 am

Jeremy, More news on chill hours! A goji berry expert says they do not need chill hours and produce year round in warm climates.

Manny G. Says:
Jun 14th, 2013 at 10:26 am

Hi there, my plant is about 7 feet in a six and a half gallon pot.  Since April the flowers with the buds keep falling off ..  it’s in organic soil and I live in sunny SOCAL.  Would you be able to offer any insight as to why this is happening?? Thank you and great site!

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Jun 17th, 2013 at 10:36 am

Manny, Usually bud loss is due to stress. Since goji are self-fertile it cannot be blamed on lack of pollenizers. You may be overwatering since these plants like moist soil, but can experience root damage if too wet.  Alternating high heats with sudden, cool nights can also stress them. I wish I had a definitive answer, but if neither of these issues relate to your situation, consider other stresses that may be affecting the plant. 

Since goji can produce as early as their first year, your tree appears to be mature enough to bear fruit. 

And, as a word of caution, do not add manure or fertilizer thinking it will assist with this situation—it may make it significantly worse.

Michele Says:
Jul 9th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I have recently ordered Goji berries.  They have not yet arrived.  I live in Maine.  When is the best time of the year to grow them?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Jul 9th, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Michele,

Goji berries are like other berries—they flower in spring and fruit in summer. We sell bareroot Goji berries in the winter, for planting while they are dormant. http://www.groworganic.com/seasonal-items/berry-plants/goji-berries.html

Caroline Says:
Aug 26th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

How about Canada? Do they need to be indoors? Will they survive Candadian winters?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Aug 30th, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Caroline, Goji are hardy to -40F or -40C. Is your climate colder than that in winter? If so, you could try to grow them indoors and take them outside in the summer. You can see in Elizabeth’s comment above that she has been growing a goji in a container in her greenhouse.

Iris Stewart Says:
Oct 17th, 2013 at 10:34 am

Can you grow Goji in whiskey barrels? I am in Zone

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Oct 17th, 2013 at 10:51 am

Iris, Your message cut off before I could see the zone, but Gojis are hardy to zone 3. How many gallons is a whiskey barrel? The Goji has a long tap root and needs at least as much depth as in a 5 gallon bucket. If you want to try another container, a 30 gallon SmartPot would give you room for roots (and so, more berries) http://www.groworganic.com/smart-pot-30-gal.html

Andrew Says:
Oct 24th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

What kind of yield can be expected from a single plant in a 30 gallon SmartPot? I see one can expect berries in Year 1, how will that yield vary from Year 3?  Based on what I have read above, Zone 7B through 10 are no problem.  What variation in results might one expect between the two zones, respectively? Thanks

Stephanie Brown Says:
Dec 20th, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Andrew, Yes, goji usually will yield in the first year and that is dependent as for all yields on numerous variables.  The goji will probably have at least 3 branches in the first year and they will continue to send out flowers and more berries along the whip throughout the season as long as those variables are suitable.  The number of branches will increase annually, with the number usually doubling the second year.  Estimates for production of goji is approximately 6.5 pounds/bush annually.

nancy pyeha Says:
Jan 3rd, 2014 at 8:43 am

Hi,  I see seedlings for sale and also mature root cuttings.  Which is best?  Supplier for zone 5.  Thanks

Stephanie Brown Says:
Jan 15th, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hello Nancy,

It depends on what you want to do with them. I personally would go with the mature root cuttings because they are less delicate to ship and will fruit their first year in the ground.

Lacee Says:
Jan 15th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Hi. Love this!  I would like to purchase a couple of your mature root cuttings for our home garden in central MN (zone 4).  Can you reccomend when I should purchase and plant in the ground?  Thank you!

Stephanie Brown Says:
Jan 15th, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Hello Lacee,

Right now is the time. We are shipping root cuttings right now. You’ll have the best success starting them in a gallon pulp pot and then planting them out in the spring. Good luck!

Pamela Says:
Apr 8th, 2014 at 9:54 am

Your site is awesome. I’ve been growing vegetables and flowers organically for the last 7 years. Is there a variety which is totally thornless? Thank You!

Stephanie Brown Says:
Apr 8th, 2014 at 10:18 am

Hello Pamela,

Phoenix Tears is a nearly thornless variety. You can minimize thorns by proper pruning. I haven’t heard of a totally thornless variety.

Sarah Says:
May 27th, 2014 at 8:48 pm

I live in phoenix and it gets to be over 100 for most of the summer (it was 106 today). Will goji berries survive this intense daily heat? I plant to grow them upwards as a vine along my brick fence.

Stephanie Brown Says:
May 28th, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Hello Sarah,

The mother plant of the Phoenix Tears cultivar lived for decades alone in the western desert of Utah so it might be ok. I’d say it’s worth a try. What kind of exposure does the brick wall have? If it’s a southern exposure it might get too toasty.

Kerry Says:
Aug 8th, 2014 at 9:31 am

Hi!

I have a huge gogi berry bush growing in my yard.  They are very hardy and are quickly taking over in other parts of the yard. 
My question is regarding dehydrating….
At what temp to you dehydrate them and for approx how long?  I have an Excalibur, but have been unsuccessful drying the berries.  They just seem to ooze out the juice from inside the berry and become sticky.

Deb Holdsworth Says:
Aug 17th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Hi! Can anyone tell me if they need any special treatment before they are put in the Excalibur Dehydrator and how hong I should put them on to dry? Also what is the best storage method once dried and what is the expected shelf life? Thanks so much!

Suzanne Says:
Aug 19th, 2014 at 9:28 am

Not sure what temperature you were using but maybe it was too high. The juice/water oozing out lends me to this conclusion. Try a lower temperature and spreading out the berries so there is adequate air flow. The setting would be similar to grapes or currants. Hope this helps.

Sylvia Says:
Aug 31st, 2014 at 10:53 am

I would like to know what to do with goji berry plants in containers during winter? Do you need to bring them into the house? Do you need to water them in winter? Does it make a difference if you were to use smart pots or the usual plastic /clay pots?

Suzanne Says:
Sep 4th, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Goji berries are very cold tolerant, so if they are growing in the ground, just leave them and put a thick layer of mulch to protect them through the winter. I would do the same if in a pot. We actually have one growing in a smart pot here in our nursery and it does quite well through our winters. You don’t need to water, it goes dormant.

Sheri Says:
Sep 5th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

The top half of the wonderfully sturdy main shoot of my new goji was broken off. Do I choose a different leader (like if the same thing happened to a tree) or hope for good shoots to come up from the original main one?

Anna Says:
Sep 21st, 2014 at 6:21 pm

I have a small goji berry bush which produces a nice bowl of berries this year -  it’s first year.  However, the leaves of the goji bush look diseased.  They have little bumps, or pockmarks, they crumple and eventually fall off.  The berries however look healthy and taste fine.  The bush is planted near a Japanese maple tree on one side and some holly bushes on the other side.  Some currant bushes are nearby too.  Can you suggest what could be causing the leaf problem?

Cynthia Says:
Sep 27th, 2014 at 8:22 am

I bought a small goji plant from my local garden show last spring and it has taken off in my large pot in full sun (Deep South zone 9). There have been loads of flowers but no fruit - most sites say it won’t fruit for 2 or 3 years. I’m wondering if I should try to trellis it (it has a wild fountain shape now), and whether I should fertilize, and when. Also, will it be ugly this winter when it loses its leaves?

Suzanne Says:
Oct 7th, 2014 at 10:42 am

Goji berries are very vigorous growers and will produce lateral shoots off the main stem.

Suzanne Says:
Oct 7th, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I cannot diagnose your diseased goji without seeing photos of the plant. The plant prefers to be in full sun and requires a higher pH soil (over 6.8). Usually when plants start getting problems with fungal diseases, the growing conditions are too moist. Do you do any overhead watering? If so, I would advise to stop and water the soil, not the leaves of the plant. Hope this helps a little.

Suzanne Says:
Oct 7th, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I have a goji in a pot on my deck and it started flowering and fruiting in late August/early September. It does not need to grow on a trellis since it is a bush. You may want to stake it until the plant get strong enough to stand up on its own. Do not over fertilize, you may not get any fruit. The plant will drop its leaves in the winter.

Edward Kimble Says:
Nov 20th, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Talked to several people with experience growing in zone 4.  They suggest growing indoors for first 3 or 4 years before transplanting outdoors, lots of straw in winter.

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