Identification Services

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

Virtual Help Desk

Within our new normal, there are so many changes to the ways we go about our daily routines. One thing that hasn’t changed is our dedication to helping you with your gardening & landscaping questions, and that’s why we’re happy to share a new way for you to reach us through our Master Gardeners Virtual Help Desk. 

Simply email your questions to vce@chesterfield.gov and we’ll assign a Master Gardener to assist you. If needed, you may attach photos or a short video to illustrate your question; review guidance on submitting your photo  to the Plant Disease Clinic. Our Master Gardeners will respond, and we’ll either call (if you choose to provide a phone number) or email you with our response.

If you have a flock of backyard chickens or thinking about getting some we can help. Submit you question to out help desk and our 4H technician can help find you an answer.

  1. Choosing a Sample
  2. Submitting a Sample

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:

  • Flowers
  • Fruits
  • Leaves
  • Plant
  • Roots
  • Twigs

Turf Samples

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.

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 percent rubbing alcohol.