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Learn all about Japanese maples

Placer County master gardeners offer free Zoom workshop

Red and gold leaves on Japanese maple
Many Japanese maples produce spectacular color shows in fall. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Japanese maples can be among the most beautiful – and most perplexing – trees to grow in the greater Sacramento area.

Find out how to bring out the best in your Japanese maple during a special Zoom workshop presented by the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Placer County.

Set for 10:30 a.m. Jan. 23, this one-hour presentation will cover “the care, maintenance and variety selection of Japanese maples,” say the master gardeners. No pre-registration is necessary for this free workshop.

Japanese maple tree with gold and red leaves
With an eastern exposure and enough irrigation, this
Japanese maple has grown as tall as the house.

With distinctive fall color and finely cut leaves, Japanese maples do their best in hardiness zones 5 through 8. That makes growing them in Sacramento’s zone 9 a little problematic; some varieties can’t take our afternoon heat.

But with a little shade (or eastern exposure), Japanese maples can thrive in Sacramento and the foothills. Due to our intense summer heat, they usually need some protection from leaf scorch and additional irrigation.

Japanese maples come in a wide range of sizes, from dwarf specimens under 5 feet tall to small trees topping out at 25 feet. According to Monrovia Nursery (which grows several varieties), foliage may be red, green, orange, purple, white or pink depending on the season. Some varieties stay red all year while others produce spectacular fall foliage.

Learn more at Placer County master gardeners’ Zoom workshop.

Details and Zoom link:


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For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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