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.

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|

ESTABLISHING NEW PLANTS IN THE LANDSCAPE IN THE WINTER

PLEASE DO NOT RELY ON RAIN OR IRRIGATION TO ESTABLISH NEWLY PLANTED TREES OR SHRUBS. A DEEP SOAKING WITH A HOSE WILL ESTABLISH TREES AND SHRUBS MORE EFFICIENTLY. EVERGREEN TREES AND SHRUBS:Evergreen trees and shrubs will need to be watered more often in the winter than deciduous shrubs, as their leaves lose moisture to the wind and to the air during our warm winter Central Texas days. It is difficult to recommend a watering frequency due to our constantly changing temperatures. Remember, if it is warm, or windy, your plants [...]

By |2018-11-18T16:14:45-05:00November 18th, 2018|Plants|

November Gardening Check List

Trees and Shrubs: The best planting season for trees and shrubs is now through mid-March. Root systems will establish well in the winter months, requiring less frequent watering than in the spring and summer establishment period. When the heat hits in late spring, your plants will benefit from the head start on root establishment! Mulch: Trees and shrubs will benefit from an additional layer of mulch to protect their roots in the winter and to conserve moisture. Pull the mulch away from trunks and stems, as the mulch will block gas [...]

By |2018-10-31T16:57:16-05:00October 29th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Helping the Monarch Migration

Have you seen the Monarchs yet? Every year, I watch in expectation for the annual migration to pass through our area. I’ve been planting nectar plants all year in anticipation! Most of us have heard about the recent decline in the population of the Monarch, and how the use of herbicide-tolerant crops in the mid-west has limited the Monarch’s larval food plant, milkweed. We now have new information on how important the nectar plants are for the adult Monarch on the long migration to its Mexico breeding grounds in the [...]

By |2018-10-15T10:27:41-05:00October 15th, 2018|Insects|

J – October Gardening Checklist

Vegetables: October is prime planting for many cool-season vegetables. Plant Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, and Cauliflower from transplants. Swiss chard, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Spinach, Collards, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Asian Greens and Spinach may be planted from seed or transplants. Beets, carrots radishes, and cool-season peas such as snap, English and snow peas should be planted directly from seed. Be sure to follow directions on thinning carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce and spinach in order to produce a harvestable crop! October is the best month to plant Garlic from cloves separated from [...]

By |2019-07-23T10:15:17-05:00October 3rd, 2018|Lawn Care, Monthly Gardening Checklist, Vegetable Gardening|

Ornamental Grasses – Lots of Beauty with Less Effort!

Ornamental grasses are overlooked too often. A balanced landscape requires many elements, and ornamental grasses are a great choice to fill the need for a structural variation in foliage. While everyone loves the plants that give us color, we also need to “break up” the landscape to avoid monotony, and give texture to our plantings. We have a wonderful selection of native ornamental grasses available to us, and not only do they fill a design void, but they are often quite heat and drought tolerant as well. Even when dormant [...]

By |2018-08-20T17:24:08-05:00August 20th, 2018|Plants|

August Pruning

Central Texas has a lot going for it in the gardening realm, if you know how to play it. For one thing, we have fabulous fall weather, which our plants really love. As gardeners, we can prepare for that extra “push” the fall will give us. But, only if we prepare now, from mid to late August. Roses are looking stressed and tired from the long, hot summer. Pruning shrub roses back by 1/3 and fertilizing with an organic rose fertilizer such as Fox Farm Rose Food will bring on [...]

By |2018-08-13T11:34:32-05:00August 13th, 2018|Plants|

Ball Moss

Ball Moss is a flowering plant (not a moss at all!) that has been given a bad rap by many people in Central Texas. We have customers frequently ask how to “kill” the moss in their trees, as they believe it is harmful to the tree. Well, I’m going to give you the real scoop on this often misunderstood plant. It’s not hard to believe that the native Ball Moss is related to our popular “Air Plants”, which are sold as house plants. Both belong to the Genus Tillandsia. They [...]

By |2018-08-01T16:04:40-05:00August 1st, 2018|Plants|