Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Small Fruits & Berries

Go with Gojis

by Susan Littlefield


You may have heard the health benefits of goji (go-gee) berries touted of late. These bright orange-red berries, the fruits of the Asian shrub Lycium barbarum, as well as juice made from them, are offered in health food stores as one of nature's superfoods. Like many other berries, goji berries contain lots of antioxidants with potential health benefits. Whether goji berries live up to their nutritional hype, we'll leave to the nutritionists to decide. But if you'd like to try your hand at growing these tasty berries, you'll have two new varieties from Proven Winners to choose from.

The goji berry shrub is actually quite easy to grow. A sprawling plant with long, flexible canes and gray-green leaves, its brilliant royal purple flowers appear along the length of the canes in late spring and early summer. These give way to bright red, oval, raisin- to grape-sized fruits that grow sweeter the longer they remain on the plant; just be sure to harvest before frost. Plants are self-fruitful, so you'll get a harvest even if you only have space for one plant. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 5 and heat-tolerant to AHS Zone 9, these shrubs do best in full sun and consistently moist, well-drained soil with a pH near neutral. Plants can reach 5-7 feet tall and will be easier to harvest from if staked.

Proven Winners is offering two goji berry varieties in their Lifeberry® line. Sweet Lifeberry® has smaller berries, but produces them in greater quantity; Big Lifeberry® bears fewer, but larger fruits. The berries turn red quickly, but need to spend several weeks on the plant after coloring up to become fully ripe and develop their sweetness.

For more about Proven Winners Lifeberries®, go to Proven Winners .

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