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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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