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.

September Gardening Checklist

Vegetable Gardens:  If you haven’t already removed your old vegetable plants from spring, now is the time to do so! Compost whatever does not have disease or insects, and discard the rest. This is your “window” to add amendments to your garden! Choose from Ladybug Revitalizer Compost Blend, Raised Bed Blend, or Earthworm castings. The Ground Up product, Vegan Compost, provides composted native plants and organic vegetable products. Compost will add needed nutrients and texture to your soil, improving moisture holding capacity, microbe activity, and production. If you have not [...]

By | 2017-09-05T14:41:33+00:00 September 5th, 2017|Lawn Care, Vegetable Gardening|

Growing Bougainvilleas in Central Texas

I am so fond of having Bougainvilleas in pots in my landscape. Nothing really compares to the riot of color that they can produce during the heat of the summer. Add that to the fact that they are so easy to care for, and we have a real winner on our hands. Simply familiarize yourself with their needs, and you will have vivid color in your yard, too! Bougainvilleas require at least 5 hours of sun each day in order to bloom well. Because they bloom on new growth, promoting [...]

By | 2017-08-30T17:13:50+00:00 August 30th, 2017|Plants|

Midges are a Nuisance!

There are a lot of perks that come with living near a lake or pond, especially in Texas. But in addition to swimming and boating, your summers might include large populations of mosquito-looking insects hatching in hordes! They infiltrate your outdoor spaces, fly in your mouth and up your nose, turn your patio into a dark mess of squashed bugs, hover around your porch lights, and generally cause a huge nuisance! Aquatic midges, also known as non-biting midges, are related to flies but look like mosquitoes. Females lay their eggs [...]

By | 2017-08-24T13:10:43+00:00 August 24th, 2017|Insects|

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|