If you’re a native of China, you’ll know that Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) is a common plant there. But, even if Goji berry’s a native of China, you can still grow it in other places with similar climates to it. You can even try growing the plant indoors as well.
Though the goji berry is an adaptable plant, it grows best outdoors as a background shrub in your backyard.
The type that invites you in to wander around, pick what’s ripe, discard the unsalvageable, and watch your edible garden flourish.
Keeping your Wolfberry shrub in top-notch shape isn’t difficult. You just need a good eye for detail to spot early signs of problems before they ruin crops, and other fruiting plants around them.
However, goji berry isn’t a plant that’s immune to problems.
So, what are the most common concerns that goji berry plants experience, and how can we address them?
Find out more about them by continuing to read the text below.
Table of Contents
Goji Berry Plant Problems
Goji berry plant problems are often pest or fungus-related. The Drosophila Suzukii (fruit fly) causes a maggot infestation inside the berries. Other problems relate to leaf damage caused by improper pruning, fungus infections, and leaf galls caused by the goji gall mite will hinder photosynthesis.
Goji Berry Plant Problems: 5 of the Worst You’ll Encounter
Blossom End Rot
Blossom end rot is common on tomato plants.
However, the Wolfberry plant is very similar and susceptible to many of the same threats as those in the Nightshade family.
Bottom-end rot is one of the most common.
This is easily identified by looking at the bottom of the berry. The bottom-end just refers to the bottom of the berry.
When it’s affected by blossom-end rot, the bottom of the fruit will turn brown from decay. Only on the base though.
The rest of the berry will stay its bright red color.
It’s caused by calcium deficiency and that’s mostly caused by over or under-watering. Both of those can be related to growing in unsuitable soil.
Drosophila Suzukii Infestation
The Drosophila Suzukii is a fruit fly that’s damaging to all types of fruiting plants. More so the goji berry, and similar wild berry shrubs.
These are also known as spotted winged drosophila, despite only the males being spotted.
Females don’t have the spot. They have ovipositors and it’s those that do the most damage.
Ovipositors are like rows of thorns on fruit flies that are used to pierce the skin of fruits so they can inject their eggs inside.
The eggs from a Drosophila Suzukii fruit fly can mature to adults in just 8 to 14 days.
The flies are minuscule, the eggs, larvae, and pupa even more so.
The damage done to goji berries is by the maggots feeding inside the berry.
The outside of the fruit dries up, shrivels, and shows signs of decay after only 24-hours.
If you see any signs of damaged fruit, pick it off and gently open it up.
Signs of a maggot infestation are bubbling berry juices on the inside.
On the outside, fruits can look healthy on the vine for days, then quickly lose their juices.
As the damage is an internal maggot infestation, the Drosophila Suzukii fruit fly will destroy crops.
The fruits won’t recover, nor can the plant be composted. The eggs will mature into adults and repeat the cycle on other fruiting plants.
Infested crops from this should be bagged and binned or tossed in the garden incinerator.
The best method of prevention is a fine mesh netting over fruiting plants to keep any type of fruit fly away from it.
Goji Gall Mite
The goji gall mite will overwinter in the bark of Wolfberry shrubs. They don’t need the foliage to survive.
Goji berry plants defoliate twice per year and lose some of their foliage in the summer.
When they do, gall mites migrate to the wood. Then they feed on the leaves after new foliage emerges.
Much of the damage they do is to the leaves only. It’s here you’ll notice leaf galls.
These just look like bumps on a leaf, but the mites live inside them.
They’re too small to see. You’ll only see the symptom, which is discolored bumps on the leaves
When they first emerge, they’re a pale yellow color. Over time, they turn a reddish-pink shade.
What you’re left with are yellow to reddish-pink raised spots (like blisters) covering the leaves of a goji berry plant.
Early infestations have little effect on fruition.
When they get going though, they will cause a lot of leaf damage resulting in a loss of chlorophyll.
When that happens, fruit production will be slower and the berries that do emerge will be smaller too.
Gall mites live on the foliage, not the berries. Their damage slows photosynthesis.
Infected leaves will look ugly, but they can be treated with insecticidal soap, or in severe cases, pesticides may be used.
Damage to the leaves will eventually slow fruition and cause smaller-sized berries to be produced.
Goji berry plants need to be pruned to control their height and spread and to encourage fruiting.
Fruits only emerge on mature growth that’s at least in its second season.
When pruning any fruiting plant, take care to leave as much of the new branches undisturbed for next year’s fruit. Remove the really old branches, and also ones that are broken.
Mature plants develop spines so you should wear a pair of thick gardening gloves when pruning goji berry shrubs.
Spines are safeguards surrounding fruits from birds and other wildlife perching on the sharp branches to feed on the berries.
Thus, it’s best to keep some of those branches so the plant can have some form of protection.
Mildew is the most common fungal disease that any shrub can have. Left untreated, white fungal spores will spread across foliage, cover the branches, limbs, and any fruit it produces.
This is more likely to happen when there’s too much shade. This is another reason to pay attention when pruning a goji berry plant.
Any area lacking sunlight creates a habitat for fungal spores to latch onto.
If you do find this fungus on your plant, use any of these methods to treat powdery mildew. The main damage it’s doing is blocking sunlight.
Wash the fungus off and the leaves will regain their greenery fairly quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Goji Berry Plant Problems
Should I remove damaged or diseased leaves from a Wolfberry shrub?
For decent growth of goji berries, you need as many healthy leaves as you can keep to help with photosynthesis. Even if they have galls, are covered with a fungus, or just aren’t a pretty sight, damaged foliage can be nursed back to health to help with fruit production. Clean up leaves with insecticidal soap or a horticulture oil rather than pruning them.
Why are my Goji berry leaves turning purple?
Stress. That’s it. It’s most common when you transplant these such as growing indoors from seed or propagating stem cuttings then transplanting without acclimating the plant first. Change the growing conditions too fast and it will stress this plant. Purple leaves are only a sign of stress. Don’t cut them off. Follow good care practices for growing goji berry plants and it will begin to regain its natural colors.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.