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Sacramento Iris Society hosts annual rhizome sale

Now is the time to plant this beautiful water-wise perennial

Auburn iris flower against green foliage
To get beautiful iris blooms like this, plant rhizomes in midsummer. Find a huge selection of rhizomes at the Sacramento Iris Society sale this weekend. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Bearded irises rank among the best drought-tolerant perennials for Sacramento gardens. And here’s your chance to get a bunch to plant now.

On Saturday and Sunday, July 16 and 17, the Sacramento Iris Society will host its annual rhizome sale at Shepard Garden and Arts Center. Think of it as a bare-root sale for irises; rhizomes are irises’ fleshy underground stems.

Mid to late summer is the best time to plant (or divide and transplant) bearded irises, which is why this plant sale is a mid-July staple. Bearded irises need very little summer irrigation, once established. Planted now, they’ll bloom next March and April.

The iris is named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow because the flowers come in so many hues. Find scores of varieties in every color (and many dazzling combinations) from pure white to (almost) pure black. Reblooming irises – which produce flowers in both spring and fall – will also be available.

Sale hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Parking and admission are free. Come early for the best selection. Club members will be on hand to offer advice, not just in choosing varieties but how to care for those rhizomes once you get them home and how to keep them thriving for years ahead.

Shepard Center is located at 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento.



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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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