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.

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|

Dog Vomit Slime Mold

What a name for such a harmless creature!  I say creature because a slime mold is neither a plant nor an animal. It is more closely related to the amoeba and certain seaweeds than fungi. This disgusting looking slime mold is often found feeding on the fungus and bacteria that are involved in the decomposition of organic matter, usually on bark mulch or even dead tree roots near the surface of the soil. They are actually helping return nitrogen to the soil, so if you can stand to leave them [...]

By |2019-09-02T14:35:39-05:00September 2nd, 2019|Uncategorized|

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|