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.

Texas Ranger

August is the perfect time to look around your neighborhood and see what is thriving in this oppressive Central Texas heat. If you have been thinking about planting in a new area, adding screening or simply rejuvenating an existing landscape, observing what does well at the hottest time of the year should give you some great ideas of what will thrive in years to come. Texas Ranger, also known as Texas Sage, Cenizo, or Barometer Bush, has been giving us a particularly good show the past week. Abundant flowers appear [...]

By | 2017-08-15T15:53:25+00:00 August 15th, 2017|Plants|

Preparing for a Fall Garden

It is so easy to get excited about planting a fall garden. The garden is looking bare from pulling out the old, tired plants from spring, and the thought of fresh broccoli and lettuce is making me hungry! So, let’s get started! Whether you have an existing garden or are establishing a new one, the preparation is basically the same. First, determine if your soil is clay-like, sandy or gravelly. Each type of soil requires a different type of amendment strategy, as well as a different fertilization program. Clay Soil as [...]

By | 2017-08-17T12:30:15+00:00 August 15th, 2017|Vegetable Gardening|

Planting for Butterflies

Working in a nursery certainly has its advantages. When the butterflies are out in force, it is a show-stopping display! Most of you know that butterflies have less specific “nectar” plants for the adult butterflies and more specific “food” plants for the caterpillars. It is interesting that the adults will often scope out where to lay their eggs while they are feeding on nectar. For this reason, it is helpful to have some of the “food” plants nearby when planting your nectar garden. An example of a “food” plant for [...]

By | 2017-08-09T11:56:04+00:00 August 9th, 2017|Insects|

Growing Citrus in Central Texas

There is nothing better than the smell of citrus blossoms in late winter and early spring.  The popularity of citrus has increased as many homeowners are creating urban backyard orchards in Central Texas. Commercial citrus operations are typically found in the Lower Rio Grande Valley where the threat of hard freezes is lessened. In fact, Texas is ranked 3rd in US citrus production.  You can have citrus in our area as long as you choose the right variety, put it in the right place, and pay a little attention to [...]

By | 2017-07-27T11:44:59+00:00 July 27th, 2017|Fruit & Nuts|

Take-All Patch on Lawns

Most of the people I have talked to about their declining (dying) lawns this year have not heard about this rapidly spreading disease of lawns. Take-all root rot, or take-all patch, does just that. It is a fungus that kills ALL of the grass plant: roots, stolons (runners) and leaves. It is most common on St. Augustine, but has been observed on Bermuda and Zoysia as well. Symptoms of take-all patch usually appear as diseased patches of turf during late spring and early summer. The initial symptoms on St. Augustine [...]

By | 2017-07-27T07:43:52+00:00 July 18th, 2017|Lawn Care|

Avocado Growing in Central Texas

If you love avocados, try giving these “hardy” avocados a try! They may take a little extra work to grow in Texas, but the rewards are worth it! ‘Joey’ has a small, egg-shaped fruit, with a dark purple skin and flavorful, nutty flesh. It ripens from August to October, and is cold hardy to 15 degrees F (for a short period of time). (Zone 8b) It is a “Type B” pollinator. ‘Lila’ has a medium sized green fruit, a rich nutty flavor and ripens from July to September. It is [...]

By | 2017-07-27T07:43:21+00:00 July 18th, 2017|Fruit & Nuts|

Asparagus Planting Guide

Asparagus Planting Plant asparagus roots or crowns in late winter/early spring (January-February in Central Texas). Prepare beds with heavy amounts of compost and organic fertilizer. We recommend using a mycorrhizal root inoculant (MicroLife 6-2-4 contains both fertilizer and microorganisms) at the time of planting as this has been shown to greatly increase yields in asparagus. Be sure to plant in full sun (at least 8 hours) and make sure that the soil drains well. Because once asparagus gets started it becomes very well established and difficult to eradicate, you should [...]

By | 2017-06-07T07:32:30+00:00 April 19th, 2017|Vegetable Gardening|

Weed and Feed – Good or Bad?

Weed and Feed Why are Weed and Feed products not recommended in Central Texas? It’s simple, really. For spring application, we address both pre- and post-emergent weed problems early in the season, many times before the grass has re-emerged from winter dormancy. The grass will not require fertilizer until it has emerged in the spring and has been growing well enough to have been mowed at least two times. For fall application, we address the weed seeds early, by using pre-emergent in mid-September to October, BEFORE they have germinated. We [...]

By | 2017-06-05T09:38:05+00:00 April 4th, 2017|Lawn Care|

Tree Borers

Tree Borers Many tree boring insects are attracted to weakened, damaged, dying or dead plants. They are referred to as “secondary invaders” because they attack a plant only after it has been weakened by stress or injury. Wood boring insects that attack living, healthy trees are known as “primary invaders”, and may eventually kill trees. It is important to differentiate the two when implementing borer control methods. Borer infestations usually go unnoticed until the tree shows external signs of damage, such as browning leaves or dying branches. The holes on [...]

By | 2017-05-08T10:40:16+00:00 April 4th, 2017|Insects, Trees|

Redbuds: Harbingers of Spring!

Redbuds We’ve had a wonderfully mild winter so far, and with this mild weather come the early spring blooms! Redbuds are an excellent indicator of warmer days ahead. From the bean-like seed pods, we can tell that they are in the Legume (or bean) family. Their flowers come in a range of shades of deep rose, pink, purple and white, as well as a range of forms such as single trunk, multi-trunk and weeping. Although we often see the native Redbuds growing and blooming in full sun, they also do [...]

By | 2017-05-08T10:35:44+00:00 April 4th, 2017|Trees|

Growing Japanese Maples in Central Texas

Japanese Maples The Japanese Maples are absolutely glorious this spring! With dissected leaves in various shades of burgundy and red, they make a welcome contrast with the greens and grays in the landscape. Japanese Maples can be an attractive addition to almost any landscape. To assure trees that thrive, locate your Japanese maple where it will receive dappled sun under the canopy of trees, with no more than two to three hours of morning sun. Japanese Maples will tolerate low winter temperatures quite well, but suffer from moisture loss from [...]

By | 2017-07-27T07:40:56+00:00 April 4th, 2017|Trees|

Sick Trees Care and What To Do About It

Sick Trees The vast majority of diagnostic questions I receive each year are related to trees with health issues. Many of these issues could be avoided by proper (and consistent) care of the tree from the day it is planted. Sometimes things do go wrong, and knowing what to do can be instrumental in reviving the health of a tree. Trees have the amazing ability to “compartmentalize” diseased and damaged tissue, and to produce healthy tissue around it. If a tree has been stressed by environmental issues such as compaction [...]

By | 2017-05-08T10:29:22+00:00 April 4th, 2017|Trees|