Organic goji berries are grown commercially grown in China, Mongolia and Tibet. These hardy, nutrient dense plants can easily grow in your own backyard if you live in USDA planting zones 5 though 9. To ensure that your plants yield a healthy crop of fruit, make sure you understand the special needs of goji berries.
Fertilizing Goji Berries
Goji berry plants do not really require fertilizer. However, if you want your plant to mature and produce fruits faster, then you may use fertilizer mixes. Find one that is organic and contains nitrogen compounds. This type of fertilizer will help your plant develop faster when used during spring time. However, you should not expect a lot of flowers or buds at this time of the year.
In midsummer, change your organic fertilizer to one that has phosphorous, but no nitrogen. This mix will promote the growth of flowers and fruits.
Pruning Goji Berries
There are several ways of pruning the goji berry plant.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Always use sterile pruning shears when trimming bushes."
One way is to allow the plant to grow wild and tall for 12 full months. Then give it one very thorough annual pruning. This will help it yield more fruit. However, many of the berries will be inside the thick foliage. Since goji berry plants have thorns, you must be very careful during this process. The berries are pretty well protected from birds and deer.
TIP: Susan cautions you, "Heavy pruning after the second year will reduce the number of berries."
In Asia, pruning is done regularly in order to keep the plants small. To be able to do this, your tree must have only one trunk, but many fruiting branches. All branches need to be approximately 2 feet long, and all new shoots should be cut and trimmed. The main advantage of this pruning style is that you will not have any problem when picking the berries. Still, keep in mind that you might have to compete with birds, deer and other pests who also want the sweet fruits.
TIP: Susan suggests, "Place a net over your bushes to keep birds away from fruit."
Other Helpful Tips on Growing Organic Goji Berries
It is important to note that goji berry plants do not like soil that is soggy and wet. However, during the first few days of germination, you might want to keep the seeds underwater. Once you see leaves sprouting from the seeds, plant them in a container that has good drainage.