Ever since an earlier article about a couple of Goji Berry plants that I purchased for the garden, there has been a lot of interest and more than a few ideas exchanged on this site related to growing Goji Berries.
Here’s a recent question that I received from Terry regarding winter care for his gojis planted in Southeastern Pennsylvania, along with an update on the Goji Berry plants growing in my garden:
The Perils of Growing Goji Berry Plants Outdoors
“I have an eight-month old Goji Berry plant in my yard, I planted it in spring. Do you think I should dig it up and pot it, and put it indoors for this winter? If I do put it indoors would I need some sort of heat bulb? How much light do you think it would need?”
“It is about 3 feet tall, and lost a lot of it’s leaves, thanks to rabbits! I saw that you had a rabbit attack as well and laughed to myself. Rabbits love Goji leaves.”
“My brother bought a Goji plant online, I forget what nursery, but his plant is doing VERY WELL. It is 4 feet high and about 3-4 wide. It flowered this year but no berries. It is actually has sharp thorns and everything on it. Very nice looking plant!”
Preparing Goji Berries for the Winter Season
Terry, I definitely wouldn’t dig the goji berry plant up to bring it indoors over the winter. Goji Berries are reported to be cold hardy and should survive the winter weather conditions outside in the garden. It would also become a hassle to follow that routine as the plants grow larger over the years, not to mention the disruption to the goji’s normal growth habit.
The only special treatment that I give the goji berries to prepare them for winter is to apply a mulch of straw or shredded leaves around the base of the plant and to provide protection against animals grazing the young plants. As you discovered, rabbits seem to enjoy snacking on goji plants and I wouldn’t be surprised if deer and other critters will also be attracted to the plants during the winter months.
A cylinder of wire meshing staked around, but not in direct contact with the goji berry should be enough to keep the rabbits away. Also don’t mulch right up to the trunk of any young fruit tree or shrub to help discourage rodent activity.
Some gardeners treat goji berries as houseplants and raise them indoors year round, but they will grow better and produce much higher yields when cultivated as an outdoor plant. For indoor care you would not need a heat lamp but a very sunny exposure or some type of supplemental grow lighting would be required.
Goji Berry Plant Update
Sounds like your brother’s Goji Berry growing in Maryland is doing extremely well, has he provided any special care beyond the ordinary to the plant? Maybe next year it will begin to produce berries.
My replacement Goji Berry plants survived a hot and very dry summer, but have not put forth what I would classify as substantial growth. Both of the plants seem as though they are still establishing themselves in their new home in my edible landscape.
The plant that was nibbled down to nothing by the rabbits rebounded to grow nearly four feet in height but is not wide and bushy. I will probably prune it back a little in the spring to encourage more branching.
My second Goji Berry plant also suffered a small amount of animal damage and is bushier but has yet to reach more than twelve inches in height. At this point I’m just hoping that both plants make it safely through the winter this time around.
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