Trott: Get answers to your gardening questions

Guidelines for gardeners when submitting plant or insect samples for diagnosis.

With temperatures in the 80s and 90s this week, and the possibility of severe storms tonight, horticulture calls and emails have grown in number.

Now that county offices are opening up, here are a few guidelines for submitting samples for diagnosis and getting answers to your horticulture questions.

  1. Call ahead: If you have a sample to drop off or need face to face assistance, call in advance to learn the most efficient way of accomplishing this. Extension employees have worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic offering services through phone calls, email, online and drop box (near the social services entrance). All those options remain in place and the public is highly encouraged to continue to use them.
  2. If you are in need of specimen diagnosis (Unhealthy plant material, plant ID, Insect ID):
  • Take a photo of the insect or plant in question and email to
  • Call for a time to submit a sample at our front desk or drop it off in the drop box near Social Services.
  • Samples must be sealed in a zip bag or a container with a tight lid. For insects, freeze the specimen overnight prior to submitting (with the exception of caterpillars).
  • Please include your name, contact information, and your question in the sample bag or attached to the container.
  • Samples will be collected on Wednesday afternoons each week. You will be contacted as soon as a diagnosis can be made.

For those wanting in-person service, the current statewide restrictions demand social distancing and limits on the number of persons in a space at one time.
Please call ahead for an appointment, and as we continue phasing open, you will be contacted with a specific time and day to come into the office for consultation.

If you are looking for garden education opportunities and information, visit the Douglas County Master Gardener Facebook page at:

Until next time, happy gardening!


“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are. ” — Alfred Austin


Robin Trott is a horticulture educator with University of Minnesota Extension. Contact her at 320-762-3890, or at trot0053@umn.

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