Updated 2018 June 30 – We completed the full cycle journal on Kau Kee cutting to fruits and other observations! These plants continue to surprise while gifting us knowledge and food. As fresh berries were not available in our markets, we grew to share them with our family and neighbors. Last but not least, we can grow this herb in our tropical zone. Winter is not a factor to see fruits.
This journey has taught us that plants are quite adaptable as long as we understood their basic needs. It may take a longer time to adapt to our climate, but as long as they live, we had opportunities to learn.
How this journey began –
October 17 2015 – I came across this post by Eddie Chua in our Facebook group, “SG Farming in Apartments” about his Goji stem cutting that has rooted in water.
As my mother loves Goji berries, I love to grow my own for her.
There was not enough information online about how they start in 2015 and I wanted to find out more for this journal. The only way is to start from cutting or seeds.
There are 2 ways to grow this hardy perennial plant.
- By Seeds : Angie Wong, a member at Singapore Urban Gardening group (Facebook), shared how she germinated from Eu Yang Sang’s dried berries. Taken from the fridge, these were cut open for the seeds inside, and sowed directly on wet tissues.
- By Stem Cutting ( Eddie’s instructions : strip the stem of big leaves, cut the stem down and soak in water until roots appear)
For this Wolfberry/ Goji berry or Kau Kee trials, I begged Regina Fok who lived in USA, to share her observations with me . 🙂 I wanted to see if winter chill is a factor required for this plant to bear berries. And hence, our rooting trials began in 2 countries in 2015.
MOVE HEAVY POTS FOR SUN !
Regina Fok’s Goji Berry Plant began in October 2015, in USA –
After her stem cuttings rooted in water, Regina Fok planted them in soil and they over wintered indoor in pots. The plants did not faced the full elements of winter as young plants.
Regina Fok’s plants did not need much care. In fact, she almost forgotten about these plants in her garden, until she chanced upon them in October 2016, while clearing her garden for winter. For all her neglect, she was surprised to see the plants had grown well and even fruiting without adding fertilizers!
Our wolfberry plants’ journey began on December 26 2015 in Singapore –
I learned from gardeners in Singapore that this plant can be planted in soil directly without roots, and decided to do a comparative study on how having roots affect a plant’s growth.
PESTS PREVENTION – TRAP FOR WHITEFLIES etc
Conclusion – For any stem cutting that had “rooted”, it is best to plant in soil when there were good “roots mass” seen. This basically mean a lot of white new roots in layman terms! Plants were stronger faster compared to cuttings with less or no roots.How flowers start their journey ! The dates are not in sequence as flowers bloom at the same time on both plants but hopefully the pictures demonstrated how they formed. No commercial fertilizer were used to encourage flowering. These plants were grown in our own natural compost from recycled kitchen green waste! 🙂
Flowers and fruits on its own without much human aid. These are very hardy plants, drought resistant and did not need fertilizer.
Wolfberries began fruiting journey!
Seeds Journey – our seeds were harvested from our plants and sowed on February 18 2017. Out of 3 seeds from above fruit, only two germinated on February 28 (10 days) . Another learning opportunity has began!
Seeds grown seedlings are slower. However it has brunch out from one stem and is steadily growing up! 🙂
Difference between leaf and flowers buds –
Leaf buds are thicker and usually formed at the tip of the stem. Whereas Flowers buds are smaller and formed at the joint between developed leaves (see below).
As small flowers buds matured, they became swollen and a tint of purple showed.
What happened after fruiting?
Leaves will drop until the whole plant was devoid of leaves. Some fruits still remained until they too dried on the stem and dropped as well. This is how the plant looked after fruiting is done.
They remained in this dormant stage for 3 months.
When the plants revived from dormant stage, another observation were made on –
- un-pruned (did not trimmed dry stems, left bare stems on)
- pruned (cut away dry stems) plants
To my surprise, the one with stems un-pruned grew flowers first, straight from bare and dry stems! For both pots, I added only compost from my bins and mulched with dried leaves as usual.
- Flower buds were spotted first on the un-pruned plant. Tip – Keep the bare stems! Don’t prune them, continue to feed the soil!
On bare dry stems (un-pruned), it can re-grow this way as well. New shoots grew straight from wooden stems. Thus, this plant will be taller. Tip – Need support, grow near wall or fence.
2) On pruned plant, where bare stems were trimmed, new shoots grew first. Flowers were slower to show. This plant had more leaves than the un-pruned plant.
Pruned plant grew new shoots and have more leaves, thus they looked lush compared to the bare/untrimmed plant on the left. However, its the latter that will show flowers first!
2018 Journal –
Reflection on parent plants’ journey in 2015 – Looking back now I was amazed by how much the plants grow ! The cuttings showed roots after 11 days, on January 06 2016 (started on December 26 2015) . These were how they looked on the first day of being planted, a short stalk with few leaves! Tip – Need to be individually potted in wide and deep pot or best grounded!
The more the plants are pruned, meaning cutting away stems while harvesting for leaves, they get bushier. These plants gave me lots of leaves for cooking as I grew them.
Neglect may be the key to get it to flower, meaning don’t harvest as often when its near the one year mark. Let the stems get woody. These plants are best grown in the ground, but if this is not possible, in the biggest pot you can find. 🙂
CONCLUSION – KAU KEE is wolfberry.
It took 10 months from cutting to see flowers.
5 months from successful (natural) pollination to full red berry stage.
The taste of fresh wolfberry is medicinal and texture is seedy. 🙂
The Berries of Goji and Kau Kee Plants:
Both the berries and the leaves are edible.
It is considered a good herb for improving eye sight .
The berries are often sold in dried form like these :
Annie Lim from Perth, Australia, said her Goji berry plant grew like weeds in her garden. They are about a meter high and potted instead of in the ground. Some support would be required when there are fruits, otherwise they will bend over. This is a hardy plant, no matter how much was pruned, this plant would rebound even more.
This plant is hardy as it can tolerates winter temperature, summer heat and drought condition. It is also a native plant of Tibet.
Fresh everlasting wolfberries on tree:
Annie Lim also shared that this plant loved the sun and should be able to thrive in Singapore.
How to prepare Gojiberry/ Wolfberry/ Kau Kee stems for Propagating –
- Stripped off leaves and mind the thorns while handling this stem
- Trim down the length of the stem
- Place stems in water until roots appeared (In Singapore’s experiment, about 11 days)
The leaves are sold in supermarkets and Singapore wet markets. It is good to know the Chinese name for this plant : 枸杞菜 (Ms. Wisteria Lesley ,Urban Farmers Singapore, November 5 2015, said the proper name of this vegetables is this. Package one was wrongly typed ! )
The leaves are often cooked as a nourishing soup with pork and beaten egg :
Ms. Regina Fok, who is based in USA and I will be sharing our data on this progress.
It would be interesting to find out if winter is a factor in producing berries for this plant.
Answer one year later (2016) – Winter is not a factor for flowers ! 🙂
- Full Sun
- Water well during hot weather and after transplant
- 10 – 12 inches soil depth
- Wide pot to give its roots some room, but best in ground with compost.
- Matured plant is 8 to 10 feet tall