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.

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 |2020-07-22T16:18:14-05:00March 3rd, 2020|Houseplants|

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 |2020-07-22T16:18:38-05:00March 3rd, 2020|Plants|

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|

Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, whitish to transparent, unsegmented worms. There are thousands of kinds of nematodes, each with their particular feeding preferences. Nematodes actively search for insects, insect pupa and insect larvae in places that are consistently moist. There are more than 250 susceptible insect species, including white grubs, termites, Peach tree borers, fire ants, stink bugs, fleas, chinch bugs, field crickets and flea beetles. What does this mean to you? Nematodes can be used instead of chemicals to control lawn and garden pests. Backbone Valley Nursery sells and recommends [...]

By |2020-02-24T14:15:36-06:00February 1st, 2020|Fruit & Nuts, Lawn Care, Vegetable Gardening|

Growing Onions in Central Texas

Growing Onions in Central Texas Upon Receipt: The plants you have received are alive and growing. If conditions exist that prevent you from planting them right away, spread them out in a cool, dry area. The roots and tops may begin to dry out, but they can live for up to 3 weeks off of the bulb. Your plants will revive as soon as planted, so plant them as quickly as possible. Onions should be planted 4-6 weeks before the last average spring freeze. In Zone 8, that is Jan. [...]

By |2020-01-26T13:16:37-06:00January 26th, 2020|Vegetable Gardening|

Pruning Practices for Oak Wilt Prevention

Those of you who have heard the adage “February through June DO NOT PRUNE” probably know that it is in reference to the spread of Oak Wilt in  relation to the timing of pruning of susceptible trees. With Oak Wilt appearing in so many locations in Central Texas, it is safer to complete pruning by February 1st, before the temperatures become milder and the Nitidulid Beetle begins to become active after the winter. This beetle is responsible for transmitting the Oak Wilt Fungus from fungal mats on Red Oaks to [...]

By |2019-12-31T11:01:54-06:00December 31st, 2019|Disease, Trees|

Citrus Troubleshooting: Common Problems

Nutrient deficiency: Iron deficiency is common in areas with calcareous soils and alkaline water. The iron may be present in the soil, but it is in a form that is unavailable to the plant when grown in alkaline conditions. Deficiency occurs on young leaves, and the veins remain green while the rest of the leaf is yellow. This condition can cause dieback of limbs and small fruit. Iron deficiency is also associated with excessively wet soils or prolonged wet conditions, as this depletes the root system and uptake of nutrients [...]

By |2019-12-09T09:38:17-06:00November 5th, 2019|Disease, Fruit & Nuts, Insects, Trees|

Choosing A Tree For Your Landscape

Choosing a Tree for your Landscape Having been involved in diagnosing tree disorders for many years, I feel the need to pass on some information that might help you avoid certain tree issues in your landscape. There are many factors to consider before choosing the right tree for your yard. Knowing these factors ahead of time can prevent loss of a tree. Choose a tree for the spot, not a spot for the tree! Know what mature height and spread the area you want to plant a tree in can [...]

By |2019-10-28T22:05:20-05:00October 28th, 2019|Trees|

Deer Injury to Trees

We are at the time of year again when the deer are in “the rut”. “The rut” refers to the breeding season, from about September to February in Central Texas. Anyone with newly planted or young trees in deer territory should be aware of this season and take measures to protect these trees from irreparable damage. Bucks will be rubbing their antlers on primarily young trees with thin bark, marking their “territory” and showing their dominance to intimidate other bucks. They begin this marking behavior in the fall, and then [...]

By |2019-10-19T14:07:28-05:00October 19th, 2019|Trees|

Planting Wildflower Seeds

Whether you have a meadow you would like to establish with wildflowers or just want to plant some bee and butterfly friendly flowers in your landscape, NOW is when we plant the seeds that will provide the blooms next spring.  Adding native grasses and wildflowers provides food for the birds, nectar and pollen for the pollinators, and can assist butterflies in migration. Are you ready to get started? If you have existing warm season grasses where you would like to seed wildflowers, mow the grass short and remove thatch, if [...]

By |2019-09-15T22:40:22-05:00September 15th, 2019|Plants|