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.

Blossom-End Rot

If you have ever had the “blossom end” of a tomato turn black, you have experienced “blossom-end rot”. Caused by cultural conditions, and NOT disease, this malady can affect tomatoes, peppers, squash, watermelon and eggplant. Researchers agree that it is caused by a calcium deficiency in the blossom end of the fruit (yes, these are technically fruits, as they are actually formed from the ovary of a flower!) Now, why there is a deficiency is the real question, as Central Texas soils and water supplies are seldom deficient in calcium. [...]

By |2018-06-13T21:15:57+00:00June 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Grapes for Central Texas

Backyard grape growing has become very popular in recent years in Central Texas. Both table grapes and grapes for producing wine are available to the homeowner. I am a jelly-maker, and have enjoyed Black Spanish Grapes for my jelly-making endeavors in the past. It truly makes a very flavorful jelly! Here are the grapes we have available this year for you to grow: ‘Blanc duBois’ is a white table grape which grows on a vigorous vine. The grape clusters are medium-sized and ripen in June to July in Central Texas. [...]

By |2018-06-05T22:26:08+00:00June 5th, 2018|Fruit & Nuts|

Lacebug

There are many species of Lacebugs that can become abundant on certain host plants in certain years. (Do not confuse these with “LaceWINGS”, which are bright green, winged beneficial insects. Lacewing larvae eat aphids!) This year we have seen the destructive pest, Lacebug, on Texas Persimmon, Lantana and Elm trees. Watch for them on Azalea, Texas Sage, Pyracantha, Redbud, Bur Oak and Sycamore as well. Adult lace bugs are 1/8” to ¼” long and appear flattened. The wings are lace-like, and appear clear. Usually a plant infested with Lacebugs will [...]

By |2018-06-05T22:22:12+00:00June 5th, 2018|Insects|

Pecan Caterpillars

It happens every year. Pecan tree leaves just are tasty to many different caterpillars, and it is inevitable that your trees will become dinner to one type of caterpillar or another at some time during the year. So, which one do you have, and how do you control them? Walnut Caterpillars usually appear in the fall in Central Texas. They are fairly large, up to an inch or longer, are dark colored with lines down their bodies. But, the real give-away is they are very fuzzy or actually hairy! They [...]

By |2018-06-05T18:12:58+00:00June 5th, 2018|Insects|

Bringing in the 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 |2018-05-29T12:07:30+00:00May 29th, 2018|Insects, Plants|

Grasshopper Control

As our weather becomes hotter and drier, grasshoppers will become plentiful. Studies have shown that they are more plentiful and more voracious feeders in hot, dry years. When we have cool, wet springs, they are affected by a naturally occurring fungal disease that can control the population a bit. Because we have little doubt that this summer will be hot and dry, NOW is the time to start control of these destructive insects with Nosema locustae, a single-celled microsporidium protozoan that is impregnated on wheat bran and broadcast in affected [...]

By |2018-05-23T20:03:49+00:00May 23rd, 2018|Insects|

Plumerias LOVE Texas!

Plumeria are best grown in pots here, as they require protection from temperatures below 33 degrees. Locate your Plumeria in a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun, with some shade from the afternoon sun, if necessary. A well-drained potting soil, such as Fox Farm Happy Frog potting soil, is a must for these plants. Their root systems will seem small for the size of plant, and repotting should be done only when the plants have filled their pots with roots. A 4”-6” jump in pot size is all that is [...]

By |2018-05-23T19:17:02+00:00May 23rd, 2018|Plants|

Daylily Culture in Central Texas

Growing up with Daylilies in Ohio, I remember appreciating their bright showy flowers everywhere. They were one of the many flowers I missed after moving to Texas 47 years ago. Now that I have a yard that is fenced-off from the deer, I can once again enjoy the day-long blooms of these beauties. Daylilies do best with full morning sun and full afternoon shade to dappled shade in the central Texas area. The morning sun helps the blooms to open. And, since each flower is open for only a day, [...]

By |2018-05-15T11:40:05+00:00May 15th, 2018|Plants|

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 |2018-05-09T22:46:09+00:00May 9th, 2018|Plants|

Trichogramma Wasps

Trichogramma wasps, despite their small size, are efficient destroyers of eggs of armyworms, bagworms, peach borers, squash borers, cutworms, tomato hornworms, cabbage loopers, walnut caterpillars and other leaf-eating caterpillars.  The female wasp deposits an egg into the egg of the pest species. After consuming the contents of the host egg, the adult wasp emerges within about a week. During the female wasp’s 9-11 day lifespan, she will seek out and destroy about 100 pest eggs by laying her egg inside of it. Release should be timed when the pest moth [...]

By |2018-05-04T14:07:33+00:00May 2nd, 2018|Insects|

May Gardening Checklist

Annuals and Perennials: Remove spent blooms on annuals such as Zinnias, snipping the bloom back to just above the first set of leaves. This process is known as “deadheading”, and if done as soon as blooms begin to fade will encourage repeat blooming. Deadhead Geraniums by bending the flower stalk away from the stem it is growing on. If you have your Geraniums in the sun, it is time to move them to afternoon shade. They will continue blooming all summer if given some shade, occasional pruning and monthly fertilizer. [...]

By |2018-05-04T14:06:30+00:00May 2nd, 2018|Plants|

Japanese Maples in Central Texas

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. Varieties with red new growth will benefit from a little sun to enhance the color when they leaf out in the spring. Japanese Maples will tolerate low winter temperatures quite well, but suffer from moisture loss from the leaves when exposed to our drying summer winds. A northeast [...]

By |2018-05-04T14:03:14+00:00April 25th, 2018|Trees|