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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 Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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