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.

Root Knot Nematodes

Root Knot Nematodes Root Knot Nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) are parasitic microscopic worm-like animals that infest plant roots and interfere with the uptake of water and nutrients. Infected plants will appear stunted, they may wilt on hot days even though soil is moist, they may have chlorotic or light green leaves and usually have reduced yields.       The roots will have "knots" on them where the nematode has entered the plant, and the "knots" do not come off easily, as can be seen on this nematode infested potato.   [...]

By |2021-07-21T16:27:53-05:00July 21st, 2021|Disease, Fruit & Nuts, Plants, Vegetable Gardening|

Gray Leaf Spot on St. Augustine Lawns

Gray Leaf Spot on St. Augustine Lawns Gray Leaf Spot (Piricularia grisea) usually shows up on St. Augustine Lawns during late spring to early summer, especially if there is abundant moisture available. Spring rains and nighttime watering schedules contribute to disease incidence. Many times cultural practices contribute to the lawn’s susceptibility to disease. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers, weed and feed fertilizers and frequent, shallow watering. Do not water in the late evening or overnight. Catching the clippings while the disease is active will slow the spread of the disease, as [...]

By |2021-07-21T13:33:14-05:00July 21st, 2021|Disease, Lawn Care|

Borers in Shade Trees

Borers in Shade Trees One of the most frequent questions we get at the nursery is about borer holes in tree trunks. Unfortunately, almost everyone wants to know how to “treat” for the borers, not realizing that the presence of borers is just an indication of a larger problem. Wood boring insects include the larvae of various beetles, moths and even a wood boring wasp. Most of these insects lay their eggs on the bark and the hatching larva chew their way into the plant to feed. Most wood boring [...]

By |2021-07-07T15:08:58-05:00July 7th, 2021|Insects, Trees|

Gummosis in Fruit Trees

Gummosis of Fruit Trees Gummosis is a term that refers to the presence of  amber-colored sap oozing from the trunk or branches of a tree. It is important to understand that the term “gummosis” is a symptom, not a cause of a tree ailment. Anything that stresses the tree can be a causal factor. It is necessary to determine the cause of the stress in order to mitigate future damage to the tree. Gummosis has a variety of causes: Environmental stress: Compacted soils, poorly drained soils, light sandy soils, use [...]

By |2021-07-07T10:33:34-05:00July 7th, 2021|Disease, Fruit & Nuts, Insects, Plants, Trees|

Early Blight of Tomato

Early Blight of Tomato Early Blight is a common fungal disease of tomatoes caused by the fungal organism Alternaria solani. As with most disease, stressed plants or plants in poor health are more susceptible. This disease can also affect potatoes. The Early Blight fungus generally starts at the bottom of the plant, affecting leaves, stems, and fruits. Dark spots with concentric rings develop on the leaves, and if the fruit is affected spots begin at the stem end, forming a dark sunken area with concentric rings. The fungus often overwinters [...]

By |2021-06-29T15:38:17-05:00June 29th, 2021|Uncategorized|

Watering Guidelines for New Plants

Watering Guidelines for Newly Planted Trees, Shrubs and Perennials First of all, I’d like you to know that this is a difficult subject to write about. There is no “one size fits all” for watering newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials. Soils are different, climatic conditions are variable, and plants are different in their water needs and rate at which they establish. That being said, I will attempt to give you some “guidelines”.  I am sure that you will need to adjust them to your own set of conditions. Trees [...]

By |2021-06-23T15:11:21-05:00June 23rd, 2021|Plants, Trees|

Fungus Gnats in Houseplants

Fungus Gnats in Houseplants Almost all of us have wondered about those little black gnats that seem to come with our houseplants. What are they and how can we get rid of them? Fungus gnats are interesting little insects. The adults, which are what you see flying around and being a nuisance, have not been found to do much of anything but lay eggs in soil. They do not feed on the plants and do not bite, and they only live for about eight days.           [...]

By |2021-06-22T15:07:28-05:00June 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|

Azaleas in Central Texas

Azaleas in Central Texas Yes, we CAN grow acid-loving Azaleas in Central Texas! It does take some preparation and TLC, but the rewards are tremendous. Most of the Azaleas available today are “repeat bloomers” that will put on a stunning show in the spring, scattered blooms throughout the summer and a re-bloom in the fall. Azaleas will do well in north or east exposures in Central Texas, where they are protected from the harsh afternoon sun. Dappled sun under trees with an hour or two of morning sun is also [...]

By |2021-06-22T14:16:42-05:00June 22nd, 2021|Plants|

Imported Fire Ant Control

Imported Fire Ant Control Face it, we have all had run-ins with Fire Ant mounds and the painful blisters that form after they bite. Children, pets, and wildlife are especially vulnerable, as they are often unaware of the mounds until the ants begin biting. There are several options for controlling (but unfortunately not eradicating) Imported Fire Ants: The Two Step Method: Step One involves broadcasting a fire ant bait over the entire area once or twice a year. This has the potential for reducing the colonies by 80-90%. Apply baits [...]

By |2021-05-19T09:45:30-05:00May 19th, 2021|Insects, Lawn Care, Vegetable Gardening|

Bacterial Leaf Spot on Peppers

Bacterial Leaf Spot on Peppers This devastating disease can infect peppers and tomatoes. Prevention is the key, as once the disease has taken hold treatment is not effective. Bacterial leaf spot causes lesions that look like they are soaked with water. The spots usually appear on the lower leaves first, and as the disease progresses the spots are purple brown with a light brown center. When the spots appear on the peppers, they cause spotting and raised cracks, which open the fruit up to infection by other disease organisms. There [...]

By |2021-05-12T14:59:23-05:00May 12th, 2021|Disease, Vegetable Gardening|

Tomato Leaf Curl

Tomato Leaf Curl Most gardeners have experienced leaf curl on tomatoes at one time or another. It is important to understand the cause so that you can make the decision on whether it is necessary to remove the plant from the garden or not. Some causes are environmental and may be attributed to physiological conditions. When this is the case, removal of the plant is unnecessary. Leaf Roll, aka Physiological Leaf Curl, is often seen during excessively moist, cool conditions. The leaf rolls “upward” and becomes leathery in texture. Curling [...]

By |2021-05-12T14:59:47-05:00May 12th, 2021|Disease, Vegetable Gardening|

Pepper Leaf Spot

Pepper Leaf Spot I know that I am not the only one who has had this disease on their peppers. It appears in the late spring to summer when we have had frequent rainfall. Of course, if you are overhead watering, you would see it as well. Bacterial leaf spot on peppers can be a devastating disease if not caught and treated early. This is why I always preach that your garden needs to be in sight of your house so that you can check it often. This disease is [...]

By |2021-05-12T15:01:13-05:00May 5th, 2021|Disease, Vegetable Gardening|
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