Goji berries are a popular fruit that originate from Asia and are well known for their medicinal values. They are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, can be eaten fresh of dried, and are often used in Asian cuisine. They are a great contender for a back-yard fruit due to their versatility and toughness.
Goji berry bushes live for around five years and develop into a sprawling vine-shrub around 2.5m. They produce stems that can be both straight and upright or lowered and rambling. The plant's shape can be easily managed by growing it on a trellis and keeping it well pruned. Tie new growth to the trellis as it develops to promote good air circulation and encourage strong growth. As the shrub is deciduous, it will benefit from an annual prune in winter before it breaks dormancy in spring.
The fruit is small and red, with a sweet flavour comparable to that of plums or cranberries. They produce fruit in late spring/early summer after spring flowers and the fruit can be dried and kept for later use throughout the year.
Gojis generally have an extended root system which gives them the ability to seek out the nutrients they require to survive. This extensive root system also allows the Goji berry to survive climactic extremes such as frosts, periods of drought and hot summers. They prefer a sunny position in well drained soil. Although they will grow in poorer soils, it is recommended that you improve the soil before planting by adding compost and manure to increase moisture retention and nutrient content. They also grow well in a pot when planted with premium potting mix.
Goji berries will benefit from fertilising when they break dormancy in spring and should be kept well watered over late spring/summer as fruit develops. A regular liquid feed during this period will be of great benefit. After fruiting, the bush can be pruned lightly which may encourage a second fruiting period if conditions are good. Ensure the bush is well mulched during summer and keep well watered through the dryer months (note that they do not like being over-watered, and are particularly susceptible if planted in heavier clay soils). Fertilise again in the autumn months when the shrub goes into dormancy. Perform structural pruning in late winter to prune out weak or diseased growth and reduce all existing stems by a third. This will encourage strong new growth in spring.
Please note that this is intended as general information only. Please ask one of our qualified horticulturists for more specific advice for your situation.
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