They’re the latest ‘must have’ miracle berry in celebrity circles. Said to banish cellulite, boost your immune system, contain more vitamin C than oranges and more iron than steak, this Himalayan berry is quite a catch. There’s one problem though, they’re very expensive to buy. Good news then, that these little red berries can be grown in the UK’s climate easily, and you can eat piles of fresh goji berries throughout the summer months from just a few, small bushes.
Growing your own goji berries is not only kinder to your wallet; it’s kinder to the environment too. They are now commercially grown in China, Mongolia and Tibet. The food miles involved in shipping them over to health shops in the UK are quite substantial, so if you have room for a bush or two in your garden or on your balcony, they’ll be a wealth of benefits involved.
How to Grow Goji Berries
Once established, goji berries are incredibly easy to grow. They’ll grow in almost any type of soil, and can even thrive in poor soil, as they are used to the mountainous regions in the Himalayas. They are reasonably drought-tolerant, and will even grow in partial shade (though you’ll get more berries from them if you grow them in full sun).
You can grow them from seed, or buy them as young plants. Buying young plants is far easier, as goji berry seeds are prone to rot in the compost and you’re less likely to get good results. The seedlings also need to be kept in warm conditions for 12 months, so for practical reasons, buying young plants is the more sensible option.
Once they’re a year old, however, they are perfectly winter hardy. Unchecked, they grow into a thick bush that reaches up to three metres tall, with vines that can grow to nearly four metres. If regularly pruned, they will form attractive small bushes that produce more berries as a result.
When your plants first arrive it is likely they will just look like bare twigs with some roots on. Don’t worry, this is normal. If planted straight away and watered well they will grow leaves within two-three weeks. Dig a hole around 50cm deep and wide and place the goji berry plant in it.
Firm the soil around the plant and water well. Leave about 1m between plants and mulch the area around the stems with leafmoluld or garden compost to keep the soil moist and well-nourished. You can even grow the bushes into a goji berry hedge; simply plant them 1m apart in a straight line.
After two years the bushes will start to fruit, and from four years you’ll start to get very heavy yields. In early summer the bushes will produce small, delicate, trumpet-shaped flowers that will be either white or purple. Both coloured flowers can feature on one plant, so they provide visual interest before the berry production begins.
The berries will begin to set in autumn. The ripe fruit are sweet and juicy and almost shiny in appearance. The flowers will continue to bloom right up until the first frosts, however, so your plants will be red, white and purple throughout late summer and autumn.
They are beautiful to have in your garden, delicious, nutritious, and cheap and easy to grow. If you want health-boosting berries on tap you should consider investing in a goji berry bush or two.
UK here I have grown for 4 years and plants have gone mad and produced really long vine like stems, tied into metal rods and they get bigger and bigger, few flowers but no fruit. Mild winter this year and new growth already showing, cutting back hard because they are all across allotment next to me. will keep you upto date if they ever fruit.
Mort - 28-Dec-15 @ 4:35 PM
I live in East Lothian in Scotland. I tried with seeds first and though they germinated would die within 6 weeks. I got 30cm rooted cuttings this spring and planted them in my fruit cage beside my raspberry plants. 6 months later they are 3 mts tall and still growing so have tied them in like the raspberry canes. Not flowers yet, but they are certainly happy otherwise. Watch this space.
Mike B-R - 30-Aug-15 @ 6:09 PM
I meant to say THE SHOOTS POP UP ALL OVER THE GARDEN.
Katie - 30-Aug-15 @ 10:05 AM
My gogi berry is in 2nd year. No berries yet but just started blooming late August. I live in Michigan.It sends out new shoots underground that pip up all over the garden. It is a nuisance. How can I control the plant.
Katie - 30-Aug-15 @ 10:01 AM
@Don - There is obviously something your plants do not like, as I have grown a few with some success. However, I've never had a massive crop. I know they are quite sensitive to other pollutants such as chemical fertilisers etc. Or perhaps it is the unreliable English climate which isn't doing them any favours. I find it difficult to grow all manner of plants that should grow here, I have never had any success with lavender despite doing EVERYTHING by the book. Sometimes you just can't win.
Ruth - 24-Aug-15 @ 2:11 PM
I also was informed that Goji plants are easy to grow. This is totally untrue. I have purchased 12 + Goji berry plants. I have 6 still remaining. I've tried different locations, same result. There are all in full sun. I bought plants from different suppliers, bought three year old roots, two year old roots. Some grow a little for first year then die. I mulch, I have fertilized. There is plenty of water. My first plant grew to about three feet tall the first year and it is now three years later and it is still three feet tall, no berries and always looks like it is ready to die. At this rate I may have berries in 10 years or so. Someone is not telling the truth.
Don - 21-Aug-15 @ 9:01 PM
I have repeatedly read not to fertilize the Goji. Mine are two years old and have not grown. Some have died. Others have lost leaves - we had a very wet June so it isn't lack of water - if anything they might be depleted on Nitrogen. I have no idea how to get them growing and would like a suggestion
NMarie - 30-Jul-15 @ 1:12 PM
I am determined to do this Goji thing,after three years at it. I have two large plants (2m) outside. one is the eldest and threatens constantly with white mildew,and has only ever shown one flower. The other has just been moved out of the greenhouse,having come from Victorian Nursery and grown like mad. One more of theirs is left in the green house,and doing fine - I have now stopped watering them persistently and they don't seem to mind.I have also purchased seeds from Suttons,which are now germinating in a propagator. Finally I have cuttings on the go everywhere,m,oct of which seem to be OK. So from all these options I hope to get more than a flower by next year. I am in the Highlands but near the Moray Coast - so the eldest will be spending Winter outside….
Nimby - 21-Jul-15 @ 3:42 PM
Hi.My Goji Berry plant, in its first year looked beautiful in its pot in full sun and produced lots of flowers but one berry.Last year, I moved the plant to a bigger pot and half shade - it didn't like that much.So earlier this year, I pruned it, planted it in the ground in the full sun.It seemed very happy, grew tall and produced lots of lovely fresh branches and leaves.Since then, all the leaves have dropped off, and it has only one remaining branch with lots of still fresh leaves on, but looking like they're about to drop off.What shall I do?Prune it right back and start again?
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Sofia - 25-Mar-15 @ 8:48 AM
"I live in Mildura Victoria Australia. ..... am afraid I have never heard of them (in Oz). Seeds would be my only option and of course would have to go through our Primary industry inspection .......to be available in Australia Where can I buy......here? If not ,am I able to import them.I live on 1 3/4 acres so plenty of room.
Peter - 22-Jan-13 @ 5:04 AM
Hi Peter. Try going to a Chinese Herbal medicine shop. They should have Gogi Berries (dried) for sale there. Buy a pack and soak a small amount of these in cold water, for a number of days changing the water regularly until the berries are swollen and soft. Squeeze out the pulp into a glass of water and run this through a fairly fine sieve to enable you to wash away the pulp and leaving the small seeds behind. (You may need to leave the pulp in fresh cold water to allow it to break down a little before running it through the sieve). Select out a number of seeds and germinate these under a bright light (or if warm weather, outside in a semi-shaded area). The rest of the dried berries you can soak and place in a blender to drink the juice. Hope this is helpful to you. Bill
Bill - 23-Mar-15 @ 8:25 AM
@Gnomes - thanks for the advice. I'm sure it will be helpful to other users.
FruitExpert - 28-Oct-14 @ 10:07 AM
My gojiberry has just produced its first fruit! It's in its fifth year (possibly held back a year as I moved it off my allotment) and I didn't think it would bare any fruit. I did not even notice it had flowers! I had plans to pull it out this weekend..l so my advice is to persevere with yours, I cut mine back hard in the early spring as it was getting too big and unmanageable, this probably did it some good. Though only a small crop this year I am hoping for more in future years.
Gnomes - 26-Oct-14 @ 7:14 PM
@permiegreen - perhaps it is because we have had quite a nice summer with bumper fruit harvests, let's hope next year is the same.
FruitExpert - 22-Oct-14 @ 11:35 AM
I have had my Goji berry bush for 7 years, I have had flowers from late august every year, however tjis is the first year I have had berries :D I have to admit to jumping round the garden when I saw the 8 or 9 fruits it has produced. :)
permiegreen - 21-Oct-14 @ 5:32 PM
@Eb61 You should be able to grow them to fruit in the UK too. But they will not tolerate heavy, wet soil.
The best advice is to plant in free-draining soil using garden compost or manure and feed in spring with general plant fertiliser. For an abundant crop, plant in full sun and apply a fertilizer formulated for flowering woody plants in early spring, just as new growth begins.
Perhaps you could experiment with another plant in a different part of the garden to see if it produces fruit, even though you'll have to wait a couple of years to see if it's worked. Good luck.
FruitExpert - 10-Oct-14 @ 2:00 PM
Having read all the comments on this forum, I have come to the conclusion that we can grow goji in the UK but unless you live in the Scottish highlands, the correct conditions for fruiting are not met. My plant is about 8 years old now, sometimes flowers, but never fruits. It grows rampantly, and gets pruned regularly, otherwise it would outgrow its plot. Am resigned to having a pleasant plant in my veggie patch, with prunings that I can use instead of fruit!
Eb61 - 10-Oct-14 @ 8:31 AM
I have three 2-year-old wolfberry/gojiberry roots that I bought this August from Phoenix Tears Nursery. Within 6-7 weeks of planting, they had put out 16-24" stems loaded with buds that are now beginning to open.I planted them together in a raised bed.We have alkaline soil, which they like, and I topped off the beds with a local (North Texas) bagged topsoil that has a pH of 7.5-8.I have kept them watered - no potting soil and no fertilizer.
Dorie - 9-Oct-14 @ 3:21 AM
I bought my first Gojiberry plant from Aldi (aug 2014)
I will diarise its progress)
Rudy - 20-Aug-14 @ 6:20 PM
There are two major types of Go-ji plants: one for producing berries and one for producing leaves. The latter never has any fruits/berries, but spread wildly by roots.
red-Goji - 10-Aug-14 @ 6:20 PM
Live in Bedfordshire - fairly southerly location. My gojis flower in late August. Needs frost free mild October for fruits to ripen.
Bedford man - 26-Aug-13 @ 3:07 PM
Hi I live in Wales and I have goji berry bushes growing in my garden.
I very rarely get any goji berries as the bushes don't flower until mid August and so the fruit rarely ripens.I have even tried them in a polytunnel with no success.
Have you any suggestions?.
the saint - 16-Aug-13 @ 8:24 PM
what and when do i feed my goji in a 10 inch pot 3ft tall no flowers yet
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Ly - 18-Feb-13 @ 8:13 AM
I live in Mildura Victoria Australia. These berries sound fantastic and would be interested in growing some but am afraid I have never heard of them here. Seeds would be my only option and of course would have to go through our Primary industry inspection and rightly so.Are they available in Australia ? If so where? If not ,am I able to import them.I live on 1 3/4 acres so plenty of room.
Peter - 22-Jan-13 @ 5:04 AM
I have had a Goji Bush/tree for about four years but have had no fruit it did start flowering in 2010, I am not sure what variety it is but it is like a thorn bush and reaches out about three meters in length along my fence, other Gojis I have seen seem to have no thorns.
your advice Please
LawnRanger - 3-Jan-13 @ 2:00 PM
i have 6 goji and this is there first year out side and i have had lots of fruit .
it is now 9 nov 1012 and i still have lots of fruit on them.
i can not see what the problem is they grow any place .
if you feed them and put them in the sun they grow .
i do not think it is any good just having 1 .
a person on my allotment has had one to 2 years and it did not do a thing but once i put my goji in his had fruit this year .
lots of sun and lots of water when it is dry .
i put feed on them every 3 months and they are doing great .
bill - 9-Nov-12 @ 3:37 PM
if You read, You will find some awnsers from «Big Gee».
Consider the gojiplant like a tomato: too much Water - it gets milldiou. In this case you either throw it away(not to contamine neibor plants) or you treat with some blue stuff that we call in France «bouillie Bordelaise». Also like tomatoes (and other fruit): if it grows too high, all the juice goes in the plant but not in the fruit, so you should leave only 6 - 8 stacks and keep them short maximum 1 meter. Personally I cut (all) plants either in autum after the fruit is ripe or in spring when the juice starts mounting in the plants.
But your climate in the UK might not be adapted for a Gojiplant, you should keep it outside, in normal earth, in full sun and even better is, if you keep it in a glasshouse. Like this you can control humidity and get flowers earlier.
Vlad - 25-Oct-12 @ 7:09 AM
I bought a tiny goji berry bush this year (less than 50cm still).
I have been growing it in a pot on my balcony. There were a few flowers on one of the twigs in July I think, but now it's full of berries - about 30 I think, a few on every twig. But now what do I do with them? Is it true that you shouldn't touch them with your hands when you harvest them?
Have to agree this thread doesn't have many answers...