Category Archives: Getting Started

Warm Plants in Containers – Part I

Chances are that anyone looking at this site, or any of my other sites, has grown a plant of some sort in a container. I suspect that the most common food plant so grown is the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum (or maybe it will revert back to Lycopersicum esculentum). What I wanted to do here was to get you to think about the possibilities of growing other, less common plants in containers. While there are hundreds you might try, I want to start with three of varying degrees of hardiness. Three that I have seen produce fruit in containers.
Of these three plants the third needs the most cold protection and all can produce container plants that are pretty as well as providing fruit. It does need to be noted though that depending on the conditions most containerized fruits produce less than a plant in the ground.

Warm Plants in Containers – I Goji
Goji, goji berry or wolfberry is the fruit of Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense, two closely related species of boxthorn in the Solanaceae Family. They tend to be Anthropogenic, favoring man-made or disturbed habitats and in some areas might become a pest if not contained. The plant is a liana (a woody plant with a vine-like growth form) or may be a shrub (a woody plant with several stems growing from the base).
Lycium barbarum is native to southeastern Europe and Asia. Lycium chinense is a native of China. Frequently the berries of both are sold simply as Goji. Very cold tolerant plants, they may be found as far north in the USA as Mane and Vermont. Goji growing in hot sunny regions may do better with some afternoon shade. Remember that Goji is deciduous and it is normal for them to drop their leaves in winter.

Small plants might come in a smaller container but your final size should be about 18 inches across and as deep as the average 5 gallon bucket so that the plant can grow to a nice size and have some weight from the soil to prevent toppling. (Yes, you can grow them in something smaller if you want, over time you will have to prune them a bit more to keep the size in proportion to the container). Use a potting mix that has a pH of 6.8 – 8.1 and provides good drainage. Do not use containers without drain holes as this increases the risk of root rot – sit containers in a shallow saucer if you need to protect a deck or floor. A good potting mix is 1/3 sand to 2/3 organics. (Compost works well as do several of the commercial potting mixes).

You can grow as a bush or add a trellis and train the plant upwards. Prune when young to encourage some branching and to create the shape you desire. When older the only pruning needed is to maintain the shape you desire. From the plant’s appearance they might also make attractive Bonsai subjects.editwolfberries_on_vine