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Rainbow of bearded irises to plant now


Yellow iris
Rhizomes for bearded irises of all colors will be on sale this weekend. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Hundreds of varieties available at annual Sacramento rhizome sale

Mid to late summer is the perfect time to plant bearded iris rhizomes. That makes July the perfect time for a rhizome sale.

Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and 18, the Sacramento Iris Society will host its annual rhizome sale at Shepard Garden and Arts Center. These are newly dug rhizomes – fresh from the ground, divided, trimmed and ready to replant. Rhizomes are the fleshy tubers that produce these perennial flowers.

Want some interesting irises? Hundreds of varieties will be available, in every color from pure white to shimmering black and dozens of combinations. According to the society, each specimen will be labeled with the cultivar name and a description of the flower appearance.

"Again we will have a large selection of rebloomers, which have an extended bloom season,” say the organizers. “A demonstration table will be set up to show how rhizomes should be planted. A labeling station will allow you to prepare a free permanent garden label for each of your rhizome purchases before you leave.”

Why plant irises? Besides the beautiful flowers, they’re an ideal choice for Sacramento and foothill gardens. Bearded iris are both deer- and drought-resistant; they can coexist with wildlife and need little summer irrigation.

Sale hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Admission and parking are free.  Shepard Center is located at 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento, in McKinley Park.

Details and directions:
www.sgaac.org .

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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