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.

Why are My Tomatoes Not Ripening?

Why Aren’t My Tomatoes Ripening? It’s June, and some of you have been wondering why your tomatoes have continued to remain green and are failing to ripen. The short answer is TEMPERATURE.     The optimum temperature for tomatoes to ripen is 70° to 75°F. If you were a bit late getting your tomatoes planted and/or the temperature got above 85°-90°F early this year, the ripening process slows or even stops. At these high temperatures the pigments lycopene and carotene, which are responsible for giving the fruit the red or [...]

By |2024-06-09T15:35:52-05:00June 9th, 2024|Plants, Vegetable Gardening|

Hardy Palms for Central Texas

Let's face it, Central Texas has unpredictable winters. It seems that every 10 years or so we will get a killing freeze that separates the hardy palms from the non-hardy palms. Some non-hardy palms such as the Mexican Fan Palm will be damaged more often than that, and may or may not survive even a "normal" winter. There are palms that will survive all but the most brutal Central Texas winters, and I'd like to introduce you to them here. What is our Hardiness Zone? According to the USDA 2023 [...]

By |2024-03-27T15:29:22-05:00March 27th, 2024|Palms, Plants|

Planting a Grow Bag Texas Mountain Laurel

Planting a Grow Bag Texas Mountain Laurel         MEASURE from the bottom of the bag to the top of the soil. (NOT to the top of the bag)               DIG a hole that is about two inches shallower than the measurement of the soil depth.             TURN the bag on its side and cut the bottom off the bag with a sharp knife.                 PLACE the grow bag in [...]

By |2024-03-18T15:57:44-05:00March 18th, 2024|Trees|

Red Yucca Varieties

Red Yucca Varieties Red Yucca   Hesperaloe parviflora  is a versatile, evergreen shrubby perennial that is adapted to most areas in Texas. It is tolerant of alkaline to acid soils, sun, part sun or shade and while very drought tolerant it will also tolerate seasonally wet soils as long as the soil is well drained. They are winter hardy to   -20°F which makes them especially suitable for planting in pots in Central Texas. Coral to salmon-pink flowers appear on 6’ tall bloom stalks several times throughout the summer and are hummingbird [...]

By |2024-02-11T14:30:35-06:00February 11th, 2024|Succulents and Cacti|

Hard Freeze Preparation in Central Texas 2024

If you are reading this now, it is likely that a "freak" winter event is on its way. Central Texas is known for its variable weather patterns and wide swings in temperature are not unheard of. Weather prediction in Central Texas is difficult, so I would suggest that we prepare for the worst and hope for the best in any predicted extreme event. We are seeing forecast lows of anywhere from 10°F to 15°F  for much of our area, with below freezing temperatures lasting up to 60 hours or more [...]

By |2024-01-11T11:05:21-06:00January 11th, 2024|Plants, Trees, Vegetable Gardening|


Aphids can be difficult insects to control. But how much do we really need to control them? This article explores the aphid life cycle and some different ways to reduce their population without using toxic chemicals. Where do we see aphids?     Aphids are sucking insects which feed on fleshy new growth and the undersides of leaves. We look for them at the top of Crape Myrtles where new growth is abundant. We might find them on the flower buds of Tropical Hibiscus, new growth on any species of [...]

By |2023-11-04T12:38:57-05:00November 1st, 2023|Insects, Plants|

Mealy Bugs

Mealy bugs are one nasty insect. You should really familiarize yourself with these destructive, hard to control insects. Catching them early may be your only chance at control.  Finding Mealy bugs any time of the year is unwelcome. If you have a greenhouse, you can depend on them showing up when the plastic goes on and the plants go in. If you find mealy bugs on your plants in late summer/early fall, get to work-you MUST control them before bringing them inside or putting them in a greenhouse for the [...]

By |2023-10-16T15:48:54-05:00October 16th, 2023|Insects|

Lantana Flower Gall Mite

  Have you seen deformed growth at the tips of your Lantana branches this summer? If so, your plant may be infested with a mite called the Lantana Flower Gall Mite.  This microscopic mite breeds inside the developing flower buds, stunting vegetative growth and preventing flowering and seed production. The distorted growth appears as a "witches broom" at the location of the tips of the branches where the flowers usually appear. This mite is destructive to ornamental plantings of Lantana in the landscape and affects the seed availability for birds.  [...]

By |2023-10-17T10:40:17-05:00October 16th, 2023|Insects, Plants, Uncategorized|

Corn Gluten as a Pre-emergent

Corn Gluten Meal is a by-product of the corn milling process.  It is an Organic alternative to chemical pre-emergent, and doubles as a slow-release Nitrogen source with about 10% N by weight. It is the best choice if you live near the lake or other water source. Again, timing is critical in order to realize the best results possible. With corn gluten meal, the wet/dry period must be managed carefully, AND, the product must also be applied BEFORE the weed emerges from the seed! Corn gluten meal works by inhibiting root formation [...]

By |2023-10-02T11:27:55-05:00October 2nd, 2023|Lawn Care|

Elaeagnus species

Elaeagnus species (aka Silverberry)     This 10’ x 10’ sprawling evergreen shrub is easily kept pruned to maintain size and shape. It is often grown as a hedge or barrier. Grow this large shrub in full sun, part sun or light shade. It requires regular irrigation to establish but survives on weekly watering even in the hot summers.         Fragrant, creamy-white flowers appear in the fall and are followed by small brownish-red edible fruit which ripens in the spring. Elaeagnus is fairly deer resistant once established [...]

By |2023-10-02T11:03:15-05:00October 2nd, 2023|Uncategorized|

Tropical Pitcher Plants

Tropical Pitcher Plant Nepenthes alata x ventricosa   The Tropical Pitcher Plant, also known as Monkey Cup, is a Carnivorous plant that is native to the Philippines. It is one of the easiest Pitcher Plants to grow and is great for beginners just starting their carnivorous plant collections. This Pitcher Plant grows 8” long red pendulous cups which are uniform at the top and bulbous at the base. The cups produce enzymes that will digest any insect that might enter. The inside of the cups has hairs that are oriented [...]

By |2023-10-02T10:35:50-05:00October 2nd, 2023|Houseplants, Plants|

Fascinating Fasciation

Plants are always a wonder to me. They come in so many different forms and shapes and colors. As with most living things, they have mutations that occur either spontaneously or as a reaction to an outside agent. Fasciation is one of the most interesting of these mutations that occurs when the tissues in the growing point of the part of the plant called the apical meristem mutates. Fasciation, or cresting as it is sometimes known, can happen in stems, flower heads, fruit, or roots. The causes include viral, bacterial, [...]

By |2023-07-18T15:16:25-05:00July 18th, 2023|Plants, Trees|
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