About Mary Kay Pope

Mary Kay is an asset to Backbone and a wealth of knowledge! Many customers come in and ask for her by name for all their plant questions. It's no wonder why, as Mary Kay has 47 years of experience in the horticulture field. She holds a B.S. in Horticulture from Ohio State University, a TMCNP and a TCLP from Texas Association of Nurserymen, a Specialist in Urban Trees Certification from Texas A&M, and is a Certified Arborist.

Tillandsia Care

Air Plant (Tillandsia) Care Air plants, or Tillandsias, are Bromeliads in the pineapple family. They are classified as epiphytes, meaning they attach themselves to trees for support, taking nothing from and giving nothing to the tree. Their leaves, rather than their roots, absorb water and nutrients through tiny scales called trichomes. They really are quite easy to care for, but it helps to know what their requirements are if you want them to thrive. Light: Lighting should be quite bright but not direct sun. Keeping them within 3’of an east, [...]

By |2020-05-23T10:48:16-05:00May 23rd, 2020|Plants|

Staghorn Fern Care

Staghorn Fern Care   *Staghorn ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum) are epiphytes which grow in tree tops in Australia, Madagascar, Phillipines, Africa, Southeast Asia and America. There are many species of Staghorn ferns, each requiring different growing conditions. The Platycerium bufurcatum is the most common species in cultivation due to their ease of care. *Staghorn ferns have both sterile fronds and fertile fronds. The sterile fronds are the disc shaped fronds that serve to attach the plant to a tree, capturing rainwater and debris for nutrients. Sterile fronds also break down to [...]

By |2020-05-13T14:01:35-05:00May 13th, 2020|Houseplants, Plants|

Desert Rose

Desert Rose (Adenium obtusum)             Like Oleanders, Adenium is a member of the Dogbane family (Apocynaceae) They are native to the deserts of South and East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.  Since they are considered to be a tropical plant in Central Texas, the plants should be grown in pots so that they can be brought indoors in cool weather.             Young plants should be grown in filtered sunlight, outdoors, in pots under a sparsely branched tree, or at the edge of a canopy of a more densely branched tree. [...]

By |2020-05-13T13:47:23-05:00May 13th, 2020|Plants|

Establishing Trees in the Landscape

Establishing a tree in Central Texas is a labor of love. Given proper care your tree will thrive for many years to come. Please remember that rain and irrigation is not adequate for establishing newly planted trees. It can take up to one year for each inch of  trunk caliper to fully establish a tree. Missing just one day of watering, especially on a hot or windy day, can mean root death for the tree from which it may not recover. Keep up the good work and you will be [...]

By |2020-04-29T12:44:53-05:00April 29th, 2020|Trees|

Fire Blight on Pear Trees

For the third year in a row, Bradford Pears have been blooming during a rain event! Why does that matter, you ask? Because a very bad guy, a bacterium called Erwinia amylovora, or Fire Blight, enters the plant through the flower via splashing water. The first symptom to appear, shortly after bloom, is a blossom blight. The flower will appear water-soaked, then turn black. The most obvious symptom of this disease is the shoot blight phase, in which the tip of the shoot turns brown or black and bend over [...]

By |2020-04-22T11:07:12-05:00April 22nd, 2020|Uncategorized|

Growing Periwinkle in Central Texas

Anyone who has planted Periwinkle, or Annual Vinca, in the spring in Central Texas will tell you “that plant always dies when I plant it”. Well, there is a reason for that! Periwinkle, especially in the “old” days, before resistant varieties were available, was never grown until the cool wet weather ofspringwas behindus. It absolutely thrives in the scorching hot summers, but give itrain and cool weather, and disease takes over! Phytopthora fungus is the causal organism for both Aerial blight and Root blight on Madagascar Periwinkles. As mentioned above, [...]

By |2020-04-07T09:53:31-05:00April 4th, 2020|Disease, Plants|

Anacacho Orchid Tree

After the Mexican Plums, Texas Mountain Laurels and Redbuds have finished blooming, the Anacacho Orchid tree graces us with its pure white blooms, which can last almost a month. I am particularly fond of this Texas native, as it is very versatile in the landscape. Tolerating both full sun as well as part shade in an understory location, it is also quite tolerant of thin limestone soils. Good drainage is one of its few requirements. The Anacacho Orchid is native to three counties in south Texas and northeastern Mexico, including [...]

By |2020-03-10T10:37:11-05:00March 10th, 2020|Trees|

African Violet Care

African violets do best in bright, indirect light.  A North window or a shaded East window is usually best.  The correct lighting can be the difference between success and failure with African violets. Fluorescent lights are also good, as long as the violets are not too far from them. If they are too close, you will see stunting of new foliage. If they are too far, the leaves will grow “up”. Use an adjustable lighting system so that you can control the distance from the plants. Putting the light on [...]

By |2020-03-03T12:06:19-06:00March 3rd, 2020|Uncategorized|

Brick House Rose

Rosa ‘Meitraligh’, aka Brick House™ Rose, is the new “rose kid” on the block this year. BrickHouse™ sports dark red flowers on a Floribunda rose that only reaches 3’ to 3 ½’ tall. The smaller size will be a welcome plant to put in those beds that are only 3’-4’ wide. The Brick House™ has excellent disease resistance for its type and a slight fragrance. You can expect repeat blooms on this well-behaved shrub rose, and the dark red color contrasts nicely with both limestone and sandstone. This is one [...]

By |2020-03-03T09:43:39-06:00March 3rd, 2020|Plants, Uncategorized|

Tomato Tips

If you missed our Tomato Tips Seminar, I am happy to share the information here for you. Of course, we go over the information in more depth at the seminar, but here it is in a "nutshell"! Tomato Tips Timing: Plant as early as possible in Central Texas. Buy your transplants in February and transplant them to 1-gallon pots which you can move in and out according to the temperature. Tomatoes will not do well below 55 degrees but can be set out in the sun during the warmer days [...]

By |2020-02-25T16:03:55-06:00February 25th, 2020|Vegetable Gardening|

Geraniums in Central Texas

Growing up, I remember the “traditional combo planters” that were available at the Local Garden Center. I am sure that you have seen them. A bold, beautiful Geranium in the center of a pot with variegated Vinca major trailing over the edge of the pot. Larger pots would sport a Dracaena “Spike” in the center as the “thriller”, with the geraniums around it as the “filler” and the Vinca major as the “spiller”. Yes, I did say “thriller”, “filler” and “spiller”! To this day, the Geranium combo pot brings back [...]

By |2020-02-23T14:48:13-06:00February 23rd, 2020|Plants|

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Most of you have heard the process of pruning Crape Myrtles back to “nubs” referred to as “Crape Murder”. But you may not know how this practice got started. I’d like to offer my "take" on the subject and offer some reasonable solutions to this practice that deforms and subjects these beautiful trees to unnecessary stress. Many years ago, we did not have the variety of Crape Myrtles available that breeders now have to offer. Until the first breeding programs began in the 1960’s, we had only Lagerstroemia indica and [...]

By |2020-02-02T09:29:59-06:00February 2nd, 2020|Trees|