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Goji berry - in recent years, everyone has heard this combination. Even people far from gardening. And not everyone realizes that the seemingly exotic plant calmly lives in the wild in the vastness of Russia, although mainly in the southern regions. The plant is not particularly whimsical, so planting and caring for goji berries in the open ground in most regions of Russia is quite affordable even for not too experienced gardeners.
General description of the shrub
Such famous goji berries have a real, quite common botanical name - dereza. The genus Dereza is part of the Solanaceae family, which also includes many well-known garden crops: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, physalis. There are two main types of wolfberry or goji berry: Chinese and common.
Chinese Dereza originates from Tibet, which is currently an autonomous region of China. There it grows in the rather harsh conditions of the Tibetan Plateau.
Attention! It is this species, due to its origin, that gave rise to many legends about monks who lived for several hundred years thanks to the regular use of goji berries.
If you pronounce the word "dereza" in Chinese, then the result will be something most consonant with the word "goji". This is where the now popular name of this plant comes from. Further in the article, it will be possible not only to find a description of the goji berry shrub, but also to find out the features of planting and caring for it.
Another species is the common wolfberry, in terms of its properties, in fact, it is not much inferior to its Chinese sister. But it has a much wider area of distribution. It is ubiquitous throughout China, and in other countries of Southeast Asia, as well as in Central Asia, Ukraine, Primorye, and the Caucasus.
Dereza is a fairly tall shrub that can grow up to 3-3.5 m in height. The branches grow straight at first, but hang very quickly. On the shoots of tree thorns, the leaves are small, elongated longitudinally. On the upper side, the foliage has a light green color, on the back side - a bluish tint. Leaves fall off for the winter.
Goji berry plants have a strong root system that can grow over considerable distances and form many root suckers. Therefore, in the southern regions, dereza, it is also a goji berry, is considered a malicious weed if it enters the territory of the garden. The crown can also grow well in width, forming over time thickets up to 5 m in diameter.
Goji berry has many related folk names: Tibetan barberry, red medlar, Chinese wolfberry, and even wolfberry. All these names appeared, most likely, due to the shape and color of the berries. They really slightly resemble barberry berries, oval-oblong in shape and most often coral in color. Although the shades of different varieties may differ. In length, the largest berries can reach 12-14 mm. As a rule, they surround the shoots in whole placers.
Attention! Despite the rumors about the possible toxicity of goji berries, they are all greatly exaggerated. Berries are not only completely edible, but have a tonic effect on the body.
Depending on the variety and climatic conditions of the region, goji berries ripen from May to October. In China, during this time, they manage to collect as many as 13 crops. True, the most valuable berries ripen in August-September.
How goji blooms
The goji berry shrub is able to bloom in favorable conditions as early as May and the flowering period lasts until October. However, in the middle lane, flowering usually begins no earlier than June. Instead of wilted flowers, berries soon form, but new and new buds form on the shoots at the same time.
Goji berry flowers are small (1-2 cm in diameter), planted singly or 2-5 at once in the axils of the leaves. Their colors are violet-purple, the shape resembles a wide open bell or an asterisk. The flowers are characterized by a delicate pleasant aroma. Bees like to visit them, collecting pollen and nectar.
The use of goji in landscape design
Goji berry plants, of course, look cute in the garden, but they are hardly decorative enough to attract everyone's attention. They will look good in a hedge that encloses the site, or serves as a division of the garden into zones.
However, professional gardeners, with the help of regular haircuts, even manage to grow and form standard trees from plants, which look very elegant even as tapeworms.
By using the dangling form of the shoots, goji berries can be grown in the form of a ligneous liana, in the manner of grapes. In this case, when planting, plants should be provided with a stable support and periodically tied shoots to it. It is also important to prune them correctly, giving them the correct growth direction.
Thanks to the strong root system of the plant, goji berry is good to grow to strengthen the slopes, if any, in the garden. But do not plant them near the garden, so that later you do not have to deal with abundant root shoots.
Types and varieties of goji
There are no less than 40 different varieties of goji berry in Tibet and China. Since the growing popularity of this plant, European breeders have also done a lot in obtaining new interesting varieties of goji berry. The following varieties are the most unpretentious for growing and worthy of attention of Russian gardeners.
This variety is the fruit of the creation of breeders from Poland. Plants are able to bear the first fruits literally in the first year after planting. The variety is distinguished by strong vigor of growth; in only one season, its shoots can grow a meter in length. An additional advantage of the variety is a small number of thorns.
New Big is very resistant to adverse environmental conditions: it tolerates strong winds, heat and air pollution well. It is easy to grow it even in the city. It is also resistant to frost - it can withstand up to - 30-33 ° С.
The berries are sweet and large (up to 1 cm wide and up to 2 cm long), have a fiery red hue. They ripen, starting from mid-August. In more northern regions, the ripening period for New Big goji berries may shift to September-October.
This variety, originally from China, also differs in early terms of entry into fruiting. A quite tangible harvest can be obtained already in the second year after planting a seedling. The bushes reach a height of 300 cm, rather thorny. The fruits are large, sweet and sour with a barely noticeable bitterness in the aftertaste, rich orange color. From one plant, you can get from 3.5 to 4 kg of berries per season.
This variety has the largest fruit size, up to 2.4 cm in length. True, they are formed only 3-4 years after planting. The bushes are also distinguished by significant vigor of growth, grow well both in height and in width. The yield is impressive - up to 5 kg of berries per plant per season. Fruits ripen relatively late, from late August to October. The berries have a very pleasant taste, sweet with a slight sourness. It is this variety that is most often called the Tibetan barberry. It is also quite resistant to frost, the shoots can tolerate up to -30 ° C without freezing.
A fairly new variety of goji berries, bred in China only in 2016. The berries are distinguished by a special amber, translucent shade and almost honey taste. Fruits appear 2 or 3 years after planting, ripen in August-September. The plants themselves are not very large, reaching an average of 2.5 m in height. The variety is particularly demanding for lighting. The dessert flavor of the berries is guaranteed only in sunlit areas. Otherwise, growing it is just as easy as other goji varieties.
Bright red, rather large berries appear on strongly leafy, few thorny branches for about 3 years after the seedling is planted in a permanent place. The variety was obtained in Tibet. The bushes reach an average height of 300 cm, are frost-resistant, but demanding on sunlight.
How goji reproduce
The goji berry plant can be propagated quite easily in almost all known ways:
- The seed method is the most popular because of its relative cheapness. But plants begin to bear fruit only 4-5 years after sowing and do not always retain the properties of the mother plant.
- Goji plants that have reached the age of 3-4 years are propagated by layering, preferably after the first fruiting. In the summer, it is enough to just dig in a part of the lateral branch, and by autumn the new plant can be transplanted to a permanent place of growth.
- It is also easy to grow goji berry from cuttings. This requires sections of shoots from 15 to 20 cm long, with at least 3-4 buds. They are rooted in a greenhouse or under a bottle, and planted in a permanent place in the next season.
- The easiest way is to propagate by root shoots. To do this, in late spring, they simply dig up one of the shoots growing near the mother plant.
How to plant goji berries
Goji berries are not at all demanding on the place of growth and care. Only young, newly planted plants will require some attention. It is more important to regularly restrict both the growth of shoots by pruning and the growth of the root system.
When to plant goji seedlings: spring or fall
In regions with a relatively mild climate, where autumn is warm and long-lasting, it is better to time the planting of goji berries in the fall months. In the middle lane and in the more northern regions, it is wiser to plant seedlings in the spring months, so that the plants have time to better take root in a new place.
Site selection and soil preparation
Most species of wild wolfberry are not at all demanding in the choice of the place of growth. Of course, they prefer a sunny location, but they will easily put up with a little shade during the day. True, it is advisable to grow certain varieties exclusively in sunny areas.
Given the powerful root system of goji, do not plant them near plants with delicate roots. Over time, the goji is able to easily crush them with its power. It is better to immediately dig in the slate or iron restraints into the ground so that the roots can spread over a large area. Or choose a place where the goji cannot interfere with anyone. After all, its requirements for the composition of the soil are minimal - plants can feel great even on stony and very poor soils. The acidity of the soil can be any. Although goji grows best on neutral or slightly alkaline soils.
Plants tolerate dry conditions well. Adult specimens are able to grow with little or no watering. But goji does not really like the close occurrence of groundwater. In these cases, it is necessary to create a good drainage layer during planting.
Preparing seedlings for planting
Goji seedlings are often offered for planting with a closed root system. In this case, they do not require any special training. Unless the soil in the containers is very dry. In this case, the entire pot should be dipped in a container of water for 30 minutes.
If the roots of the plant are bare and covered only with paper and polyethylene, then before planting they must be soaked for several hours in water at room temperature.
How to plant goji berries
Usually the very process of planting goji seedlings in open ground is quite traditional. A few days before planting, a pit is prepared, about 30 x 40 cm in size.If there is stagnation of water on the site, then it is necessary to create a drainage layer at the bottom of the pit of gravel or brick fragments with a height of at least 15 cm.
Then a planting mixture is prepared from garden soil and sand in equal amounts with the addition of humus, wood ash and a handful of double superphosphate. Half the volume of the planting mixture is poured into a hole, a seedling is placed inside and the remaining amount of soil is added. A goji seedling is allowed to slightly deepen when planting.
After planting, the goji bush is spilled moderately and covered with a small amount of peat or chopped straw.
Advice! You can take care in advance of limiting the growth of the goji root system in width by digging in pieces of slate around the perimeter of the pit to a depth of 50-70 cm.
How to grow goji berries
For the successful cultivation of goji berry trees, it is recommended to follow only the most basic rules of care.
Young goji plants are most sensitive to watering in the first year after planting. They should not be overfilled. And during the period of heavy or prolonged rains, it is even recommended to protect the root zone with a piece of polyethylene. If there is no rainfall for a long time, then the seedlings, of course, need watering, but not more often 2-3 times a week. In the second year, goji can only be watered regularly in the hottest and driest weather. Mature plants usually require little or no watering.
When and what to feed
Goji is a very unpretentious plant and successfully grows and bears fruit even without additional feeding. But if you want to get a particularly exuberant growth and a bountiful harvest, then in the spring you can feed the bushes with complex fertilizer with microelements.
Loosening and mulching of the soil
Loosening allows you to increase the access of oxygen to the roots, and at the same time free the root area from weeds. This is especially true for young plants. But mulching plays an even greater role, additionally retaining moisture and preventing the sun from overheating the ground near the roots.
Pruning goji bushes
In growing and caring for a goji berry, pruning can play a special role in order not to grow what happened in the photo.
From the very first months and even weeks of life, goji shoots must at least be pinched so that they begin to actively bush. From them, you can form both a standard tree and a densely wriggling liana.
In the first case, pruning of goji begins in the spring, in the second year after planting, immediately after budding. It is necessary to cut off all shoots on the central shoot up to 1 m in height. Then the central shoot itself is cut to stop growth at a height of about 1.5-2 m. All other branches are periodically shortened for more intensive branching.
In the second case, for the goji, even during planting, it is necessary to provide a stable support from several posts or mesh. It is necessary to tie up all the main shoots to the support, periodically pinching their tips for branching.
To obtain the maximum yield, you should proceed differently. After all, you need to remember that the most productive are the goji shoots of the last season. Therefore, in the fall, when pruning goji, you can safely remove the sprouted shoots and those that are more than three years old. This will defuse the crown and the next year the bushes will bloom more abundantly.
Preparing goji for wintering
In the regions south of Voronezh, goji plants do not require any shelter at all for the winter.
In other regions, it is necessary to proceed from the frost resistance of a particular variety and choose one or another type of shelter for the winter. The easiest way is to simply mulch the root zone with a thick layer of organic matter.
In especially frosty regions, the branches are additionally covered with spruce branches or non-woven material.
Features of growing goji in different regions
You can grow goji berries in your country house in almost any region of Russia.The ability of goji to grow and feel good in different conditions is determined not so much by low temperatures in winter as by the moisture of the soil and air. Since plants are more sensitive to waterlogging than to severe frosts.
In outskirts of Moscow
As a rule, in the conditions of the Moscow region, planting and caring for goji berry bushes does not require any special difficulties. There is even no need to somehow specially prepare the plants for the winter period. It is advisable only to cover the plants with the maximum amount of snow. You can additionally cover only young, freshly planted sprouts grown from seeds. You can use any organic mulch or peat for this.
Freezing temperatures in this region can be very severe. Therefore, in Siberia, it is necessary to thoroughly protect the bushes of goji berries from winter frosts, using any covering materials.
In particularly humid places, it is still recommended to move the goji plants into containers and leave them for the winter in the basement or on the veranda. The main thing is that they have enough light in the winter.
In the Urals
In the Urals, frosts can also be very severe, but there is always a lot of snow. Therefore, if you cover the young seedlings with spruce branches, and throw a lot of snow on top, then they may well endure the winter with dignity. The main thing is to make sure that during the period of massive snowmelt the goji are not flooded.
In the Leningrad region
The Leningrad region is known not so much for cold winters as for high humidity and an abundance of swampy soils. Therefore, when growing goji berries, it is imperative to take care of a decent layer of drainage during planting, then caring for the plant will not cause any special problems. It is advisable to plant plants only on higher elevations. With standard winter cover, well-planted goji bushes usually survive even harsh winters.
Is it possible to grow goji berries from seeds
Goji berry can be easily grown by sowing seeds extracted from fresh or even dried berries. It is only important that the berries are dried at a not too high temperature, not higher than + 50 ° C. Otherwise, shoots may not be expected.
Under natural conditions, wolfberry can easily reproduce by self-seeding.
How to grow goji berries at home
Each berry usually contains from 8 to 15 seeds. Even if half of them grow, this is more than enough to get the required number of plants for your site.
When to plant goji seeds
For planting goji berry seeds at home, February or March is best. By summer, the plants will have time to get stronger, and they can even be planted in open ground.
Seeds do not need stratification and if there is a special desire, then you can sow them almost all year round. For example, in late autumn, after the berries have ripened. Only in this case it is necessary to provide additional artificial illumination for seedlings.
Preparation of containers and soil
Goji seeds are usually planted in boxes of a suitable size, depending on their number. If adult wolfberry plants are unpretentious in relation to the soil, then seedlings in the first phase of their growth are very delicate. For better germination, it is advisable for them to pick up a loose, but at the same time moisture-consuming soil. A mixture of 1 part garden soil and 2 parts peat is fine. For ease, if desired, you can add a little sand to the earthen mixture.
How to plant goji seeds
Before sowing, it is advisable to soak the seeds in a solution of growth stimulants. Although freshly harvested seeds already have a fairly high germination rate, up to 90%.
- After soaking, they are slightly dried and placed on the surface of a prepared slightly moist soil substrate.
- From above, the seeds are sprinkled with a small layer of earth, no more than a few mm thick.
- The surface of the substrate is sprayed again to create the necessary moisture.
- The seed box or container is then covered with plastic wrap to maintain the greenhouse atmosphere.
- Future goji plants do not need light before germination, but heat is needed.
Germination can take 2 to 4 weeks. The sprouts appear very thin and tender. They immediately need good lighting, but they should be protected from direct sunlight for now.
In the period before the opening of a few true leaves, the main thing is to make sure that the soil in the box is constantly slightly damp. It cannot dry out, but excessive moisture will be unpleasant for young seedlings.
How to grow goji at home
When young goji have 3-4 new leaves, the plants should be planted in separate pots.
Young goji do not need any additional feeding in the first year. The main thing is to provide them with a sufficient amount of light, moderate temperature and humidity. After the first transplant, when the plants have recovered from the stress, you can pinch the top of the shoot. You can also grow goji at home. The plant does not require any special care. Only in winter is it better for him to determine the coldest place in the house. But for fruiting, he needs to find the sunniest place.
Shrub transplant in open ground
Usually, mature young goji are planted in a permanent place in open ground in late spring or early summer, when the danger of a return of sub-zero temperatures will go away. In this case, they act according to the technology described above.
Diseases and pests
Since plants have begun to grow relatively recently in the middle lane, the pests have not yet had time to taste it. As a member of the nightshade family, it is sometimes attacked by the Colorado potato beetle. Of course, aphids or some caterpillars like to feast on young leaves. Insect control products are standard - spray the plant with one of the insecticides according to the attached instructions.
Of the diseases, only powdery mildew was noticed in especially rainy years, but it cannot cause severe damage to plants.
Collection and storage of goji berries
Despite the thorns present, picking goji berries is very easy. It is enough just to spread any material or film under the bush and shake it by the branches. Ripe berries fall down and are easy to pick. After picking the berries, it is best to let them dry in a warm place, with minimal light, but at a temperature not higher than + 50 ° C. Then put it for storage in glass jars or cardboard boxes. Store goji berries in a cool, dry place.
Planting and caring for goji berries outdoors should not be difficult even for novice gardeners. Meanwhile, this plant is capable of both decorating the site and helping to stock up on tasty and healthy berries for the winter.