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 to 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, including:
Dig a 2 to 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.
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 percent 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, do the following:
- 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.
Where to Submit Samples
Include problem diagnosis form for plants (PDF) or insects (PDF) with your sample. Please mail the completed form with sample to:
Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension
P.O. Box 146
Chesterfield, VA 23832-0040
If mailing, mail early in the week to avoid sitting in the post office over the weekend. Use overnight services whenever possible.
Cooperative Extension Office
Stop by our office with your sample to see one of our Master Gardener volunteers at the Help Desk. Note: If it’s possible, please bring the sample directly to our office; it will be fresher and arrive in better condition for diagnosis.