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Submitting a Sample
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T. Michael Likins

Phone Numbers
(804) 751-4401
(804) 768-7576 (FAX)

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Mailing address 
Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension
P. O. Box 146
Chesterfield, VA 23832

Street Address 
Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension
9501 Lori Rd.
Chesterfield, VA 23832
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Cooperative Extension
Submitting a Sample

Whether you've found spots on your gardenia or insects in your pantry, we can help!

General Tips for Choosing a Sample

  • Collect a fresh sample. Collect a sample on the day you are submitting it to our office or shipping it to our office. Don't leave samples in vehicles overnight. Intense heat or cold will destroy the sample.
  • Submit samples that are not in transition. (Show symptoms of dying.) Diagnosis is difficult to impossible with dead or dried plants.
  • Send in a sufficient sample. Whole plants, including roots, are more desirable than individual leaves or branches, whenever possible.
  • Submit a sample of the soil if possible. Keep soil off foliage by wrapping the root ball in plastic, aluminum foil, or submitting in a separate bag from the plant tissue.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Collect a 12-24-inch-long branch with leaves attached.
  • Samples should show transition from healthy to affected foliage.

For weed/plant identification

  • A single leaf or grass blade is not sufficient. Include as many parts of the plant as possible - entire
    • plant
    • twigs
    • flowers
    • leaves
    • fruits
    • roots

Turf samples

  • Dig a 2-3-inch-deep, shoebox-sized, rectangular sample (including roots) which shows transition from healthy to affected turf.
  • Wrap the roots with aluminum foil to keep soil intact and prevent contaminating blades.

Insect identification

  • Include a dozen bugs, not just one, to ensure a good sample Single specimens are not always complete.
  • Insects are hard to identify when parts are missing.
  •  Larvae should be placed in 70% rubbing alcohol.

How to Submit your Sample

  • When mailing samples for insects, package your sample in a crush-proof container.
  • When sending your sample through the library, place it in a sealed, Ziploc-type bag inside a brown paper grocery bag.
    • Do not add any water to the sample.
    • Staple your diagnosis form to the outside of the paper bag.
  • When mailing the sample for plants
    • Wrap the sample in a dry paper towel.
    • Do not add any additional water.
    • Place wrapped sample in a box with crumpled newspaper or similar material to stabilize the sample.
    • Wrap root ball/soil separately from plant to avoid contamination of the plant tissue.
    • Place your sample information/form in a separate, sealed plastic bag.
    • Moisture from the sample can disintegrate paper and cause ink to run if packaged in direct contact with the plant tissue or soil.

    Submit Samples


    • Include problem diagnosis form (for plants or insects) with your sample.
    • Please mail the completed form with sample to:  

    Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension
    P.O. Box 146
    Chesterfield, VA 23832-0040

    NOTE: If mailing, mail early in the week to avoid sitting in the post office over the weekend. Use overnight services whenever possible.

    Library Drop-off

    Cooperative Ext Office

    • Stop by our office with your sample to see one of our Master Gardener volunteers at the Help Desk.

    9501 Lori Road 
    Chesterfield, Va. 23832

    Note: If it’s possible, please bring the sample directly to our office; it will be fresher and arrive in better condition for diagnosis.

    Did You Know

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    Additional Resources

    Need Plant Help - Call Master Gardener at 804-751-4401 

    Subscribe to Extension Connections 

    Virginia Cooperative Extension 

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