How to grow goji berries

Growing goji berries

The Goji Berry (Lycium barbarium) are fast becoming a more popular berry to grow in Australia. Goji berries are a popular fruit that originate from Asia and are well known for their medicinal values. Part of the nightshade family of plants, which include tomatoes and capsicums. Goji berries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, can be eaten fresh of dried, and are often used in Asian cuisine. They are a great fruit to grow at home due to their versatility and toughness.

If you have ever wondered how to grow goji berries in Perth, Western Australia then look no further. A relatively berry to grow there are a few tricks to successfully growing goji berries in Perth, but get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant goji berries in Perth:
Goji berries are easy to grow, they will grow over a wide range of climate, and they will grow anywhere in Australia; just about every backyard could have one in fact. The best time to plant Goji berries is in the spring. This is when the shrub is dormant and better tolerates disturbance.

Types of goji berries:
Lycium barbarum goji berry – A very hardy vine-shrub. Deciduous to semi deciduous with suckers produced from base. Best maintained pruned as they can become a wild 3m tall sprawling shrub. The small red berries can be eaten fresh or dried. Best in full sun.

How to grow goji berries in Perth, WA:
The most common way to grow goji berries is from established plants purchased from the nursery.

  1. Early spring is the best time for gogi berry planting.
  2. Plant in a sunny location.
  3. Keep the soil moderately moist for the first few months or until you see new growth on the shrub.
  4. Spread mulch around the base of the plant to reduce weeds and conserve moisture.
  5. Allow the soil to dry out fully, before watering again.

Growing goji berries from seeds:
It is possible to grow goji berries from seed.

  1. Use fresh seeds that have been cleaned and are free of pulp.
  2. Start seeds indoors in peat pots.
  3. Plant your goji berry seedlings outdoors in spring when they are one year old.
  4. It can take around three or four years to bear fruit from the time of sowing.

Growing goji berries in pots:
Goji berries love growing in pots. You want a pot which holds 20 litres at a minimum because goji berries put down a deep tap root. You’ll get a more compact plant while the container prevents the roots from spreading, similar to raspberries.

Pruning goji berries:
The goji berry tree is best pruned, otherwise it will just grow one long stem. Pruning will make the branches grow more dense. If the goji berry grows as one long stem, this means it will bear less fruit – and we don’t want that.

  1. Avoid pruning a Goji berry plant in the first year
  2. In year 2, choose a main shoot and prune all others below it about 40cm from the ground
  3. When the goji berry plant reaches 60cm tall in the summer, pinch out the growing tips to cause side branching where the fruit will be born
  4. After your main goji berry structure is established, just prune back to the height you want to keep it
  5. Remove any branches below 40cm from the ground
  6. Prune any unproductive and dead branches also
  7. Thin out branches after the berry season

When to harvest goji berries:
Goji berries produce fruit in late spring or early summer after spring flowers.  The white to purple goji flowers (like a potato flower) open and then long thin green berries form (like Thai chillies).  These mature in December to an orange red colour and can be picked and eaten raw.  The flavour is sweet with a tang and like a common cranberry.

Storing goji berries at home:
If eating goji berries fresh, you can keep them in the fridge without washing to keep them from going mushy, but remember to wash them before you eat them.

To wash your goji berries run cold water over them in a colander. They’re fairly hearty since they have a skin like a cranberry and unlike a raspberry, for example.

If you think you’ll be eating your goji berries within a few days, you can store them in an uncovered bowl, out of direct sunlight, or you can keep them in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a week.

If you choose to refrigerate them place a piece of paper towel between layers of goji berries to keep them dry and prevent them from sticking together. Store them in a sealed container or Ziploc bag, because exposure to fridge air will make them go bad quicker.

How to dry goji berries:
There are several methods you can use to dry goji berries. However the method I prefer is oven drying. Oven drying goji berries is simple just follow these five simple steps.

  1. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius.
  2. Take a flat pan and place wire racks atop of it.
  3. Place a layer of berries on the racks.
  4. Place the pan in the oven and leave the door slightly ajar.
  5. Leave the berries to dry, but check on them regularly. Rotate the pan so they will dry evenly.

Leave us some comments about your experience growing goji berries in Australia.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

Leave a comment