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How to plant your own goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Germinating and sowing your own Goji Berry plants.

How to plant your own goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Germinating and sowing your own Goji Berry plants

Goji Berries: A traditional Asian “medicine”?

Being Malaysian Chinese, I’ve eaten goji berries since I was a baby. Chinese ladies use the dried red berries in soups and other tasty dishes. I love it (it tastes like a raisin with lots of little seeds like a blueberry has). I also love the flavour it imparts to some of my favorite Chinese dishes. Never really thought of it as a medicine though, much less a ‘sexual tonic revered in Asian herbalism‘! Goji berries have become the latest health food craze here in the US and apparently can cure a plethora of maladies.

Goji berries in my edible garden

This plant packs a punch healthwise and also aesthetically. Impressive white and purple trumpet-like flowers from early summer, eye-catching fire-engine-red clusters of delicious berries on a lush green bush (max height 8 ft). The plants will fruit continuously till the first heavy frost. And the plants are hardy to -15 deg F. Good for my PA Zone garden. I figure a row of goji berry bushes all the way down my garden will be the perfect backdrop for some other shorter edibles that I plan to grow. Birds will love the berries as much as I do, so I may have to put netting on the bushes as the berries ripen.

Planting my own Goji Berries

I had a ready supply of goji berries for cooking purposes that I could germinate. These cost about $3 per pound and are called boxthorn fruit, bought from the Asian food store in town. Spencer also had bought organic goji berries for about $15 from the Whole Foods, so I decided to use the organic ones instead. You can also order them from Amazon ($2.50 for a packet of about 50 berries will yield a gazillion teeny seeds) if you don’t have any handy for your germination experiment. Make sure you don’t get the ‘freeze dried’ ones, your best bet are the organic dried ones (usually haven’t been irradiated or treated, and will germinate).

How to plant your own goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Germinating and sowing your own Goji Berry plants

How to plant your own goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Germinating and sowing your own Goji Berry plants

I started off selecting three of the largest berries and opening them up to reveal the tiny seeds within. I didn’t give them any ‘winter chill treatment’.

Then I extricated the seeds and dabbed each seed onto a moistened paper towel. I spaced the seeds far enough apart that I could cut the towel into individual seedling-contained pieces later (so as not to damage their roots).

How to plant your own goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Germinating and sowing your own Goji Berry plants

How to plant your own goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Germinating and sowing your own Goji Berry plants

After a week, the seeds had germinated.

I transplanted them into little plastic starter pots with drainage holes. Filled the pots with compost to give ’em a good start. Make sure the soil is pressed lightly yet firmly around the seedling roots to ensure root contact with the soil (and thus water). Water daily and place in sunny spot until bigger.

How to plant your own goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Germinating and sowing your own Goji Berry plants

How to plant your own goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Germinating and sowing your own Goji Berry plants

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It could come as a surprise to many that there are over forty one known types of Goji berries all around the world and most of these are grown in the east.

Some of the widest spread and most well known are Lyceum barbarum, Lyceum ferocissimum and Lyceum Chinese.


The different types of Goji berries

Lycii berry which is commonly known as Chinese Wolfberry by Chinese herbalists has been used as nutrient tonic for centuries. This bright red berry which is very chewy and tastes like raisins contain Beta-sitosterol, Betaine, Niacin, Beta-carotene, Ascorbic acid and Pyridoxine. It is also referred as cooling tonic.

Chinese Wolfberry belongs to the Solanaceae family which has also well known members like green pepper, tomato, potato and eggplant. It is also known as Chinese boxthorn or matrimony vine. This variety is very much related to Lycium barbarum and is mainly found in the Chinese province of Hebei.

As for Lycium barbarus, it is mainly grown in the orient such as Tibet and Inner Mongolia and also in the area which is popularly known as the Goji belt. There are many provinces of China where it grows in the wild and is concerned very sacred. The Goji belt contains Ningxia (China) which is perhaps the most conducive place for Goji berries to grow mainly because its soil is alkaline as well as very fertile. Here the temperatures vary from one extreme to another and that results in the best and the largest Goji berries. You would find the Goji fruits turning deep red having just a few seeds and very sweet in taste.

There seems to be some correlation between harsh climates and the level of antioxidants present in the berries. For example the blueberries found in the harsh climate of Alaska have the highest antioxidants amongst all the blueberries found in the U.S. Studies found out that when a plant has all he nutrients that is required to be healthy it requires much more substances to help protect it from harsh climate.

Ningxia has seen Goji berry cultivation for more than five hundred years. There is no dearth of stories and legends woven around Goji berries. For example, Nanqui, a town in Ningxia province was given the title of Long Life Village by the emperor because there were many who were well passed the age of hundred residing there.

At the foot of the Tianshan Mountains you would find Xinjiang. This area also experiences harsh climate and also boasts of Goji berries of the same high quality as Ningxia. Other such areas in the Goji belt are Gansu, Hebei, Qinghai and Shanxi. These provinces are all found along the mountain ranges in the Goji belt. And yes, Tibetans also claim that their Goji berries are amongst the best. The same goes with Inner Mongolia, Korea and Japan where Goji berries are harvested and considered very valuable.

If you visit Ningxia in China you would be surprised with the general health of residents there. It is almost a legend here. It was proved with the Chinese national census that the number of residents of Ningxia who have crossed 100 years of age is about four hundred percent higher than the national average. And if you ask anyone here, they would tell you that the secret lies in wolfberries.

People living in China especially Ningxia have kept Goji berries as a part of daily life. For a person in Ningxia, the day starts with a bowl of fresh Goji berries. It is the same for generations and for the generation of today also Goji berries are a part of national treasure.

If you read ancient books of Chinese culture, you would find that there were basically three valued tonics for health and life-ling tzi, ginseng and Goji berries (wolfberries). They believed that wolfberries actually nourished the yin, supported the liver and kidneys, supported the blood, strengthen the eyes, muscles and bones and did wonders for Chi, the life force.

It was seen that consumption of wolfberries actually prevented the occurrence of diseases like cancer, arthritis and diabetes and also worked as anti-aging tonic. People in China believe it strongly that wolfberries could increase your life span considerably if you take these for extended period of time.

There are ample reasons behind these suppositions and none of these beliefs are mere conjectures. There are scientific facts behind it. Chinese wolfberry has over twenty one trace minerals, more beta carotene than is found in carrots, over eighteen amino acids and over five hundred times more vitamin C by weight than oranges. What is more, it also contains vitamin B1, B6 and Vitamin E and that too in good quantities. It is by far the more nutritionally dense edible substance found on the earth. And there is no reason why you should not give it a try.


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The valleys of Mongolia and Tibet is overgrown with Goji berries and if you think it is just like any other berry, you should think again.

The importance of Goji berries could be gauged from the fact that for two weeks every year, the locals celebrate to honor the benefits of Goji berries. And there are reasons behind it. Clinical studies have revealed that the content of beta-carotene in Goji berries is more than that of carrots, the content of protein is more than whole wheat and the content of vitamin C is about five hundred times more than oranges by weight. It is not surprising that many of the local inhabitants live to the age of more than one hundred years and that too in good health.

These Goji berries are organically grown in the fertile lands of Inner Mongolia. These vines grow to over twenty feet and are grown without the use of any pesticides or pollutants. So, if you want to grow these miraculous berries, let us help you.


The seeds should be sown about half a centimeter to one centimeter under the surface in the spring season. Medium sand is preferred. About seven days later, you would find seedlings emerging and crowding each other. The seedlings should then be planted out. If you find seedlings wilting and dying, you should spray fungicide like Fongarid and change the location to more sunlight.


Goji berries need water and sun in ample quantities. The shrub could easily reach about three meters with berries growing to about two centimeters. Once the plant gets established, it resists drought quite well. For best results, let the plant grow in full sunlight. Always avoid water logging. It could kill the plant. After two years, it starts giving fruits and in the fourth and fifth year, harvest is the maximum.

You only need to establish them once and then they grow relatively well. Any type of soil suits them well right form light sandy to loamy to heavy clay. But you would find that they grow the best in moderate quality soil which is well drained. Owing to their well developed root system, they are good drought resistant once they are well established. They grow the best in full sun but can also grow in partial shade.


Their resistance could be understood from the fact that they can resist heat up to a hundred degrees and can resist cold up to minus fifteen degrees. The bush of Goji berries could grow up to eight to ten feet while the vines could be over a dozen feet tall. You need heavy pruning to keep the bush in shape and to let it produce more berries.

Early summer is its growing season when it is laden with trumpet shaped flowers. Surprising fact is that the same plant sprouts both white and purple flowers and looks pretty charming. If you are in the U.S. you can get this rare plant from Timpanogos Nursery which is the only one offering it.




Right in the beginning of the summer season the Goji berry plant is adorned with beautiful flowers and during later summer you get the bright red Goji berries. The flowers and fruits go on growing till it faces the first heavy frost. And no one can describe the sweet juicy taste of Goji berries till you actually taste it.


You can grow Goji berries as house plants also provided you can provide them with ample light. It could be grown with the help of strong full spectrum artificial light or you can put the plant near a window that receives direct sunlight for at least eight to ten hours a day. But it is always better to grow them outside although you can grow them indoors also. But for that you would have to pollinate the flowers by hand.

And if you are thinking about the reasons for growing Goji berries, well it is in the 19 amino acids, 21 minerals like germanium and proteins. Goji berries have more carotenoids than any other natural food on this earth. In addition to that it also contains Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex and Vitamin E in large quantities. And yes, it also contains essential fatty acids, Sitosterol, Cyperone, Solavetivone, Physalin and Betaine.

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Goji trees are short evergreens that produce an amazing amount of berries once a year.

The goji trees you will see in pictures around the web have actually all been cropped a bit at the top so that workers can hand-pick all the fruit without ladders. Otherwise they naturally would grow a few feet taller.

Can I grow a Goji Tree?

Those who love Goji berries often consider what it would take to grow their own goji trees at home. If that is something you’d like to consider too, then it may be possible for you to do so, depending on your home’s climate and availability of seeds.

The highest-quality goji trees are in the Ningxia province of Northern China. If you are serious about growing a goji tree, the first thing you need to do is secure a source of seeds from these trees and bring them home.

It is illegal to import alien plant seeds in most countries without going through the proper paperwork, so make sure to check with your national customs office to obtain permission.

Once you have the paperwork taken care of, you’ll need to purchase some goji seeds from a reputable Chinese farm, preferably in Ningxia.

Make sure that you are obtaining seeds from the species “Lycium Barbarum L.” There are 6 other species of goji, none of which are nearly as potent as this line.

Next, you’ll need to pick a suitable climate for growing them. The farms in Ningxia are warm and slightly arid, at low elevations, with a temperature range between -5 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

An early frost will kill goji berries, so a more constant climate, such as they have in the southwest of the United States, is highly desirable.

Then, you’ll need the right kind of soil. Ningxia’s soil is runoff siltwater from the Himalayas, extremely fertile and packed with more nutrients than most other places on Earth. Be sure to grab the most fertile, nutrient-dense soil you can find.

Finally, you’ll need time. A goji tree doesn’t produce fruit the first year so be patient, it may take between two and five years to taste your first goji berries from this venture.

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What do Goji berries taste like?

The taste is not too difficult to describe… some say between a cranberry and a cherry… Others say they taste of raspberry and plum… you will have to decide for yourself!

Where does the original Tibetan Goji berry come from?

The original Tibetan Lycium (Goji) berry comes from Tibet. Tibet is the highest most remote place on Earth and the Goji remains the purest Lycium with the richest nutrient energy.

What is the difference between Tibetan Goji Berries and Chinese Wolfberries?

The Tibetan Goji Berry comes in 18 oz (1/2 kilo) bags, keep this in mind when comparing to the 1 lb prices of other companies. The Chinese Wolfberry may be grown with pesticides in depleted soil, dyed red, sulfured and irradiated. The Chinese Wolfberry may be more expensive too. There is also a multi-Level marketing company selling Goji (gogi) Juice or Himalayan (Himilayan) Wolf berry Juice or Goji Berry Juice. It is our understanding that these are not made from the Authentic Tibetan Goji Berry, though people are acheiving great results using the juice. Bottled Goji Juice may contain a small amount of heated fruit juice concentrates and a small amount of sodium benzoate preservative. See recipe above to make your own pure Raw Goji Juice. Enjoy your Goji (gogi) berry experience.

What can I make with Goji berries?

Savior each berry individually or add to hot and cold cereals, shakes, smoothies, salads, desserts, add a handful to your water bottle and eat them as you drink, use in trail mix, soups, whole fruit and nut bar, teas and more. Let your imagination soar with this creative culinary wild delight!

How is the Goji berry grown?

The Tibetan Goji berry is pure and harvested according to wild crafting methods, this exceeds organic standards set in the U.S. and is grown in ancient million year old soils in remote Himalayan valleys untouched by any pollutants, contaminates or pesticides.

What are some benefits and nutrients found in goji berries?

The berries, seeds and rhizomes have a marked antibacterial, aperient, carminative, cancer, febrifuge and ophthalmic effects. The fruits and roots are used in treating ulcers, urethral discharges, ophthalmia, jaundice, fevers and cancers.

The Berries are being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers. The fruit is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids, essential fatty acids, and other bioactive compounds.

How are the goji berries dried and harvested?

The berries are collected in the late summer to early autumn when the fruit is mature. It is spread thin on bamboo mats and dried in semi-shady sunlight. The farmers must be very careful not to touch the fruit with their hands during the drying process because this will cause the fruit to turn very dark, almost black, which is unacceptable.

 What is the ORAC antioxidant level of Tibetan Goji Berries?

Lab verified 36000 orac units (antioxidant level).

Did you know?

In Tibet and Inner Mongolia this red berry is cherished by the locals, they honor it with celebrations and festivities that last for two weeks every year. They live free of arthritis, cancer, diabetes and many other common diseases and their life expectancies are well over a hundred. It has been used for centuries in Tibet and throughout the Himalayas and there is no known risk of continual use only benefits.