Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum
Goji berries can be propagated via cuttings and seeds. This post is specifically about Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum via softwood cuttings. We will cover goji berry basics as well as provide a detailed how-to for propagating this little shrub.
Goji Berry Lycium barbarum Basics
The goji berry (Lycium barbarum), also called the wolfberry, is a shrub that has purple flowers in the spring and early summer followed by bright orange-red berries in the late summer into fall. Gojis are native to China and are part of the nightshade family, which also includes tomato, potato, peppers, and egg plant.
Goji is a deciduous woody perennial in zones 5-9 that grows three to five feet in height, with long arching stems. The long slender leaves form in an alternating arrangement on the shoots. It flowers in early spring and the flowers are a purple to lavender color with 5 to 6 lobes. After flowering, green berries grow that turn bright orange-red when ripe. The fruit has 10 to 60 small yellow seeds and ripens from June to October.
Goji Propagation Basics
Gojis can be propagated by both seed and cuttings. They need well-drained soil with pH levels between 6.8 and 8.1. Keep the soil moderately moist for the first few months or until you see new growth sprouting. Spread mulch around the base of the plant to reduce weeds and conserve moisture. Thereafter, allow the soil to dry out in the top few inches before watering again.
To plant by seed cut goji berry in half and plant berry as seed. Several seeds will germinate from one berry. Thin by cutting early sprouts to favor largest or prick apart if you can. Do not soak berries before sowing, as the berries will turn to gel. The planting Depth is 1/4″ and it takes 14 days to germinate.
For this post we are going to take softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings are this year’s growth that started in the spring. This wood is usually just slightly a different color and last year’s wood just looks a little more worn and older.
Make the Cut
Cut the softwood branches off of the plant. Then cut the branches down so they have four internodes. Internodes are any place a branch or leaf comes out. I usually go with four to six for goji berry. Leave two leafs at the top and remove the bottom leafs.
Dip the bottoms of the cuttings in rooting hormone. I use dip and grow liquid hormone because I only need the one product and I can mix it as strong as I like. Softwood cuttings does not require very concentrated rooting hormone, whereas hardwood cuttings require more concentrated solution.
Cuttings in the Planting Medium
Now it is time to place the cuttings into the planting medium. Push them into your planting medium about two inches down. Your planting medium should be something that drains freely and easily. You do not want to saturate the soil where disease and pathogens will proliferate.
Keep the Leaves Wet
These little cuttings will die if the leaves dry out. You don’t want to soak the ground, but you do want to keep the leaves wet. The best way to do this is with a mist irrigation system that automatically comes on. I use the Galcon 8056 and have it programmed for 10 seconds on and 5 minutes off. This runs all day, but shuts totally off from 9 PM until 6 AM.
Leave Them Be
The cuttings need to stay in the rooting medium until they go dormant. This usually happens by December or January timeframe. Once they are dormant, they can be moved to pots or to their location in the yard.
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