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.

Roots and How They Grow

It is difficult to know how to water plants if we do not understand how (and where) their roots grow. Do we water just at the base of the plant? How long do we water a plant, and how deep does the water need to go? These are questions that I hear almost every day at the nursery. Let us begin with tree roots. In the first year, when establishing a newly planted tree, apply water to the area above the original root ball and about 1’ beyond. This will [...]

By |2019-08-18T17:48:20-05:00August 18th, 2019|Plants, Trees|

G – July Vegetable Gardening

Oh good gracious! Who ever heard of planting vegetables in Texas in July! As ridiculous as that may seem, NOW is the time to begin planting and planning for our fall gardens. Pull out those old, tired, diseased and insect ridden cucumbers, green beans and summer squash to make room for the late summer and fall crops that will begin producing more fresh produce for your table. If you aren’t planning on following up in these areas with watermelon or winter squash, till in some compost and let the area [...]

By |2019-07-23T10:14:45-05:00July 9th, 2019|Monthly Gardening Checklist, Vegetable Gardening|

Moroccan Mound Euphorbia

This is the case of a cactus that is not actually a cactus, but is closely related. Technically, it is classified as a succulent, even though it does have spines. It is also related to the Christmas Poinsettia, but don’t tell it that! This low-growing succulent has a lengthy history of cultivation, and is one of the oldest documented medical plants of all the Euphorbia species. Mounding to 1’-2’ tall and spreading to 4’ wide, its pale blue-green upright, four-sided stems are adorned with brown spines along the margins. Small [...]

By |2019-06-27T09:14:27-05:00June 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Growing Blackberries in Central Texas

Blackberries are biennials and produce their fruit the second year after planting. They do well in sandy soils, and can be grown in soils that are at least 1’deep, with good drainage. In areas with poor drainage, they may be grown in raised beds. You can choose from three different categories of blackberries to grow in Texas: Thorny varieties are generally more productive than the thornless varieties. Most of the varieties with thorns were developed in Texas. ‘Brazos’ is an old, reliable and tough variety, developed at Texas A&M in [...]

By |2019-06-19T10:58:16-05:00June 19th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Blackberry Pruning

One of the most common questions I am asked is “How do I prune my blackberries?” That is a very relevant question, however, it is usually asked at the WRONG time of the year! So I have decided to take the “mystery” out of pruning blackberries! There are a few simple facts you will need to know before pruning your blackberries. Blackberries are unique in that they have perennial roots and biennial tops. The tops (canes) live for two years, then die! Blackberries have two kinds of canes:     [...]

By |2019-06-19T10:50:56-05:00June 19th, 2019|Fruit & Nuts|

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|