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Get ready for upcoming annual iris sale

Las Vegas Iris Society will have its annual flower sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and June 27 at Plant World Nursery, 5301 W. Charleston Blvd. Remember, the early birds always get the best irises. Society members grow only new hybridized varieties you can’t get at garden centers and they’re acclimatized to our area.

Irises do beautifully in Las Vegas. They’ll thrive in a highly organic, well-drained soil with soil sulfur incorporated in before planting. They do hate soggy soil, so don’t overwater.

After purchasing your new rhizomes, store them in an open box in a shaded location where air circulates around them. Do not store them in a garage, because it gets hotter than outside temperatures. Rhizomes do dry out but once planted, new growth appears in days.

Plant new irises in late September and early October. They do well in full sun but appreciate relief from the afternoon summer sun. Planting them now encourages soft-rot, because you must keep rhizomes damp to put out new roots.

Iris rhizomes like their tops exposed to the sun, but spread out the roots and cover them with soil. If planted too deep, they won’t bloom.

If you have irises, feed them now. Feed again in late September when new growth appears and again in March before they bloom. Use a balanced fertilizer such as 16-16-16. Avoid a high-nitrogen fertilizer; it creates lush growth, but the flowers won’t bloom and the plant will become infested with aphids. Also, remove the old flowering stalks and groom your plants for that fresh, clean look.

If you have irises, now is the time to divide them. This should be done every three to four years or when bloom quality and bloom numbers decrease. Dig the rhizomes out of the ground. Remove the dead rhizomes and replant new ones or give them away.

If you have any questions about the iris sale, call 876-1525.

Here are some questions I encountered this past week.

Q: My neighbor’s tree roots are cracking my fence wall. How would you advise me to handle this mess?

A: Find a way to communicate that is not threatening. It is correctable. Tell the person to dig a trench along the fence down below the roots on his side of the fence and sever the roots. Place a root barrier (sold by nurseries) vertically in the trench and refill it. It will not become a distraction in his landscape. If the neighbor balks, take pictures of the damage and hire a lawyer. Hope you can work it out.

Q: How can I stop rabbits from eating all my landscape plants?

A: Go to Mountain States Wholesale Nursery’s website, www.mswn.com, and click on “plant info” for a list of plants to stop them. I had the same problem, and they didn’t like red yuccas, coyote bush, hacienda creeper and germanders.

Q: Why did the pea-size lemons on my 3-year-old tree drop?

A: Have a little patience. Your tree is not mature enough to carry fruit. It takes five to six years to come into production. You will get a few along the way, so all is not lost.

Q: I am wondering why one of the arms on my seven-foot-tall organ pipe cactus turned blackish-gray and withered, but the rest of the plant looks healthy and new growth is coming from the plant’s base. Can it be removed?

A: Yes, prune away the dead tissue by using a sharp saw to make a clean cut. New growth emerging is a very good sign all will be well.

Q: Why won’t my tomatoes turn red? They got to the whitish-green stage but won’t turn red.

A: They are about ready to harvest. Tomatoes ripen from the inside out and the whitish-green stage comes just before ripening. I once had a greenhouse full of whitish-green tomatoes when the prices were sky high. Of course, the price dropped to almost nothing and then they turned red. My patience ran thin that year.

Q: Why don’t I see weeping willows? We want to plant one.

A: They grow here, but expect problems in a few years when wet-wood or slime flux and borer insects attack them. Our winters are not cold enough for them.

Try a Texas Honey Mesquite. It has all the traits of weeping willows without the problems and it is very much a water conserver.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@ springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.

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