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 43 years of experience in the horticulture field. She holds a B.S. in Horticulture from Ohio State University, and a TMCNP and a TCLP from Texas Association of Nurserymen, and a Specialist in Urban Trees Certification from Texas A&M.

Leafhopper

Every year about this time, customers start bringing in photos of this strange white, fluffy substance on the stems of their shrubs and perennials. I myself have it on the stems of my Rose of Sharon. What on earth can it be? Well, it is not a fungus, as some have suggested. It looks fuzzy, so could it be a mealy bug? Nope. It is an evasive little insect called a leafhopper. I say evasive because if you’ve ever seen one on a stem, as soon as you get close [...]

By |2019-06-12T15:41:57-05:00June 12th, 2019|Insects|

Leaf Footed Bugs on Tomatoes

If leaf-footed bugs invade your garden, learn what the eggs and nymphs (babies) look like. They can be picked off and put in a can of soapy water or sprayed with a spinosad/soap solution. Once they mature, the best way to rid your tomatoes of them is to purchase a cordless handvac (there are ones your rechargeable drill batteries will fit on). Then, go out at night with a flashlight and vacuum them up! Dump them in a bucket of soapy water before they fly away. These are the insects [...]

By |2019-05-30T09:25:02-05:00May 30th, 2019|Insects|

Lavender Demystified

As you may have guessed, Lavender is a plant that mystifies many people. Which one should you plant? What conditions do they require? We are fortunate to have a relatively non-hostile environment for growing Lavender in Central Texas. If you have well-drained soil and a sunny exposure, you should be able to grow Lavender with ease. Humidity, poor drainage and heavy soils are the arch enemies of Lavender. Lavender is drought resistant once established, and to many people’s delight, they are DEER RESISTANT TOO! There are four primary species of [...]

By |2019-05-30T08:48:43-05:00May 30th, 2019|Plants|

Milkweed Seed Stratification

Milkweed Stratification Procedures, Courtesy Native American Seed NOTE:  George Cates insists that sterile rubber (latex) gloves be worn at all times and that containers and implements be sterile.   Otherwise, mold can grow in the vermiculite and damage the seeds. Mix seeds with pre-chilled distilled water and let soak for 24 hours in the fridge.  After 24 hours, pour seeds into strainer and rinse with distilled water. Moisten vermiculite with distilled water, the exact quantity required varies with different media, moist but not dripping is best.  Mix rinsed seeds into [...]

By |2019-05-09T09:38:39-05:00May 8th, 2019|Plants|

Genista Caterpillar

The Genista Caterpillar is the caterpillar commonly seen on the new growth of Texas Mountain Laurels. Note, it is ONLY the new growth that they will be found on. This saves us time and money in our control efforts. Any time Texas Mountain Laurels have new growth emerging, as in the spring and fall, is a good time to protect the new growth by spraying it with either Bt (Bacillis thurengiensis) or Spinosad. These are both Organic solutions to control caterpillars. I usually keep a “ready to spray” bottle of [...]

By |2019-04-24T11:21:12-05:00April 24th, 2019|Insects|

Rose Rosette Disease

Rose Rosette Disease was first identified in wild roses in the 1940’s in California, the Rocky Mountains, and Manitoba, Canada. In 1990 the disease appeared in East Texas, and by the mid-1990’s infected plants were located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In 2015, the Fort Worth Botanic garden replaced all their roses due to infection by the Rose Rosette virus. Rose Rosette Disease is a lethal disease of roses, and has been determined to be caused by a virus. It has no known treatment or cure. The disease is spread [...]

By |2019-04-03T17:01:54-05:00April 3rd, 2019|Disease|

Citrus Harvesting: Is It Ripe Yet?

Knowing when to harvest any citrus fruit involves the question of the degree of maturity. Because citrus pass from immature to mature to over- mature slowly while on the tree, the fruit can be harvested over a period of months with small changes in fruit quality. Fruit color is a poor indicator of ripeness. Many fruits have fully colored rinds a long time before they are “ripe”, and others are green when sugars are high enough to make the fruit sweet. Citrus does not increase in sweetness or ripen more [...]

By |2019-03-28T08:49:33-05:00March 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Using Oil Products to Control Insects and Disease

We now have available to us a wide range of oil products to use as alternatives to synthetic insecticides and fungicides. These include oils distilled from petroleum and oils extracted from plants and animals. Petroleum oils (including mineral oils) are highly refined, paraffinic oils that are often referred to as horticultural spray, summer oil, spray oil or white mineral oil. We recommend Bonide “All Seasons Spray Oil” for late winter insect and disease control. (The antiquated term “dormant oil” referred to the heavier, less refined oils produced in the past [...]

By |2019-02-13T10:42:05-05:00February 13th, 2019|Disease, Insects|

Crape Murder!

Is anyone thinking about murdering their Crape Myrtles this year? Is your yard crew "conditioned" to cut back your Crapes to NUBS???? Unfortunately, this practice began long ago, before we had choices in mature heights of our Crape Myrtles. They were planted too close to houses, and their height came too close to the eaves and gutters of the houses. Sooooo......the answer was to cut them back each year, thinking that this would not only control their height, but promote more blooms as well! This has been undeniably proven to be WRONG! [...]

By |2019-01-30T14:28:23-05:00January 30th, 2019|Trees|

Growing Blueberries in Central TX

Rabbiteye blueberries can be grown successfully in whiskey barrel sized pots in Central Texas. Because they require acid soils, use a quality potting soil mixed with 1/3 sphagnum peat moss. The pot should drain well, and no saucer should be placed under the pot to ensure thorough drainage. Blueberries require full sun to produce well. Use a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants, such as an Azalea/Camellia/Gardenia fertilizer. Do not apply any fertilizer the first year. Starting the second year, fertilizer in late winter to early spring. DO NOT use a [...]

By |2019-01-17T10:16:45-05:00January 17th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Poinsettia Care During the Holidays

Poinsettias are such a symbol of the Holidays, and can be kept fresh-looking longer with just a few easy care instructions. Locate your Poinsettia close to a bright window if possible. The bracts will continue to “color up” with sufficient light. If you are satisfied with the color, you may display the plant in a darker area, but be aware that the color might fade. Check the soil daily for water. When the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, or if the pot feels light, remove the [...]

By |2018-12-09T11:44:41-05:00December 9th, 2018|Plants|

Cyclamen Care

Cyclamen come to us from the Mediterranean region and North Africa. They revel in cool, but not cold, temperatures, and provide us with flowers for several weeks each season. Florist Cyclamen come in shades of red, pink, white, purple and salmon. Some varieties are fragrant, some reach 7”-8” tall, and others may reach 12”-18” tall. They are grown from a corm, which is bulb-like structure, and can be kept over as a perennial as long as they are allowed to go dormant in the summer season. (Or not, as you [...]

By |2018-11-28T11:15:34-05:00November 28th, 2018|Plants|