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.

Strawberry Growing in Central Texas

Growing Strawberries in Central Texas Strawberries may be successfully grown in the home garden in Central Texas if care is taken to give them the right growing conditions. Strawberries require at least 6 hours of direct sun and must have a well-drained soil. They will do best in a slightly acidic sandy loam, so if you have any other type of soil you should consider growing them in raised beds or containers.   Raised Beds are a good option for us in Central Texas, as most of us do not [...]

By |2023-06-20T13:51:29-05:00June 20th, 2023|Fruit & Nuts|

What to do When Plants Wilt

*If the plants are in the ground and the soil is moist, it is likely transpirational wilt. Check the soil moisture first, and if it is wet,  your plant is likely experiencing  "transpirational wilt". This occurs when the plant cannot take up water fast enough to replace the moisture loss in the leaves. This often occurs in high temperatures or windy conditions. You can spray down the leaves with water several times a day to raise the humidity and decrease moisture loss from the leaves. There is no need to [...]

By |2023-06-20T10:41:32-05:00June 20th, 2023|Plants, Trees|

Rapid Decline of Post Oaks in Texas

I first became aware of this Decline of Post Oaks when visiting a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension booth at an annual trade show several years ago. I had been aware of how the severe drought in 2011 was continuing to plague our trees even more than a decade later, but had not heard of the Post Oak Decline. The incidence of Rapid Decline began in earnest after the severe drought of 2016. Since then I have experienced first hand the devastation this has caused to so many stately old trees.  [...]

By |2023-06-13T15:29:15-05:00June 13th, 2023|Disease, Trees|

Do Not Allow Grass to Grow Up to the Trunk of a Tree

There are several reasons why you should keep the grass back from the trunks of your trees.        String-trimmer damage to tree trunks is not reversible. Period. The vascular system that is damaged does not repair itself or re-grow after it has been damaged. Trees may show varying amounts of stress from string-trimmer damage, and the wound is a perfect place for disease organisms to enter the tree.             If grass has grown into the mulch ring around your tree, DO NOT USE [...]

By |2023-06-06T16:09:35-05:00June 6th, 2023|Trees|

Yucca Plant Bugs

Are your Yucca plants looking tired?   Are the leaves lighter in color than usual? If so, they might be infested with Yucca Plant Bugs. These relatives of Stink Bugs and Leaf-footed Bugs have piercing-sucking mouth parts. They feed on the plant by extracting juices from the leaves. The leaf will appear "stippled" with tiny light colored dots. You may see black specks on the leaves, which are the feces of the bug.         Yucca Plant Bugs overwinter as fertilized eggs that have been placed inside the [...]

By |2023-04-17T12:02:53-05:00April 17th, 2023|Insects|

Weeds: Winter Annuals

    Henbit   (Lamium amplexicaule) is a cool season, ANNUAL broadleaf weed with square stems and pink to purple flowers. It is mostly noticed in the early spring after it has had a chance to grow all winter in the lawn and then begins to bloom. These blooms produce seed which will lay dormant over the hot summer, then begin to germinate in the fall as the temperatures cool. The plant itself dies completely in hot temperatures and does not come back from the roots.         Wild [...]

By |2023-03-01T16:27:18-06:00February 27th, 2023|Lawn Care|

How to Check for Spider Mites On Evergreens

CHECK FOR SPIDER MITES EARLY!!!!!!     Don't wait for your Italian Cypress or other evergreens to turn gray, then completely brown before determining if they have spider mites. By then it will be too late. This is one pest that you want to stay ahead of. If you wait until you see the symptoms, it will likely be too hot to spray. The best time to treat for spider mites on Italian Cypress or other evergreens is in February.              Even if your Cypress [...]

By |2023-02-12T09:08:01-06:00February 12th, 2023|Insects|

Are Epsom Salts Good for Plants?

Myth:    Epsom Salts are a good fertilizer and will promote blooms, make tomatoes and peppers more productive and are a general “cure-all” for the garden. Fact:    Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate (MgSO4), a very simple chemical consisting of magnesium, water and sulfur. Magnesium is one of the minor elements which plants need to grow, and it is rarely deficient in soils in Central Texas. It may be deficient in a sandy, acidic soil, but we don’t have to worry about that here!  A soil test will confirm if the soil [...]

By |2023-02-28T08:25:13-06:00February 1st, 2023|Vegetable Gardening, Lawn Care|

Fruit Trees in Central Texas

Fruit Trees in Central Texas It’s fruit tree planting time again. Such a rewarding experience! There is one caveat, however. Fruit trees may be grown in Central Texas as long as their basic conditions are met. Sun is required for fruit trees to grow and produce fruit. Be sure to locate your trees where they will receive at least 8 hours of direct sun each day. Water is required for fruit trees to thrive and produce fruit. Once a tree is established, soaker hoses supply water to the tree roots [...]

By |2023-01-25T08:28:23-06:00January 24th, 2023|Fruit & Nuts|

Weed Control with Horticultural Vinegar

Weed Control with Horticultural Vinegar Are you looking for a more “natural” way to kill unwanted grass and weeds? Fortunately, we have options! One method that has been around for years is using 20% Horticultural Vinegar as a “burn back” method to kill weeds. “Burn back” is exactly what it sounds like. The Vinegar “burns” back the leaves of the weed.  The vinegar is not translocated to the roots like the chemical methods of weed control, and it is likely that the weed will grow back from the roots again. [...]

By |2023-01-23T12:38:45-06:00January 23rd, 2023|Vegetable Gardening, Lawn Care|

Nasturtiums in Central Texas

Nasturtiums in Central Texas Nasturtiums are a cool-season annual in Central Texas and are easily grown from seed in pots or seeded directly in the garden. Native to the mountain regions of Central Mexico, Argentina and Chile, they thrive in cool temperatures, but do not tolerate freeze or frost. The plants will fade when it gets hot, so planting when it is cool is mandatory. Nasturtiums are easy to grow from seed,  and are a fun project for late winter gardens.       Nasturtium seeds are large and have [...]

By |2023-01-17T11:48:53-06:00January 17th, 2023|Plants|

Adaptive Perennial Color for Hot Texas Summers

  Pride of Barbados     Caesalpinia pulcherrima Full Sun, well-drained soil 8' x 8', reseeds readily Herbaceous perennial. Do not cut back until late winter. Will be late to emerge in the spring. Deer resistant in most areas. Zone 8   (W. Indies and subtropics of the Americas)     Tropical Milkweed     Asclepias currasavica Full Sun/Part Sun 3'-4' x 3'-4' Re-seeding annual. Collect seeds when seedpods are ripe and save to plant next year. Somewhat deer resistant, but not reliable. Zone 8 (S.Central, Central America)     Firecracker Fern    [...]

By |2023-01-16T12:19:14-06:00January 16th, 2023|Plants|
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