Plant Diagnosis and Specimens


Star-Tip 1010

Gardening Tips for successful and beautiful Landscapes and Gardens



Please read and follow these instructions before submitting specimens.


Collecting Plant Samples

  1. Provide as much information regarding the specimen as possible. Filling out a "Plant Specimen Submission" form will help assure a better and more complete diagnosis.
  1. Select plant sample material showing the symptoms. If possible, it is best to send/bring several samples showing various stages of the problem. Early stages of symptom development are especially important.
  2. Send samples of all plant parts, including roots whenever possible. Aboveground symptoms may be caused by root or stem diseases; thus examining all parts can be essential for an accurate diagnosis.
  3. Send several affected portions of the plant. Remember to include the margin of disease on stem and branch samples.
  4. If you suspect disease, send a sample from dying or wilted branches with yellow leaves. Remember, do not send dead wood. Place several branch sections 1/4-1" in diameter and approximately 6" in length in a plastic bag. This will prevent the sample from drying in transit.
  5. Turfgrass samples should be taken from the edge of the affected area and include both dying and healthy plants. Do not send a section of only dead grass. Send several 3" x 3" squares of sod including as much soil beneath the grass as exists. Wrap the sample in a thin layer of damp (not wet) paper toweling, then wrap in dry newspaper.
  6. Fleshy specimens such as fruit, mushrooms, or other fungal fruiting bodies should be as firm as possible and show both early and intermediate symptoms. Wrap specimens separately in dry paper toweling or dry newspaper. Do not put in plastic. Pack specimens so they are not crushed during shipping.
  7. If sending a complete plant, dig the plants (do not pull them) out of the soil. Pulling plants out of the soil will generally break off the roots, especially if they are rotten. Retain a small amount of soil around the roots. Do not wash roots. Keep the roots and soil separate from the aboveground parts of the plant by placing them in a plastic bag and sealing them off with a rubber band.


Client Name:___________________________ Date:____/____/____ Phone (___)____-_______


Plant Variety:___________________________ Current Size:________________


Years since planted or transplanted:_________ Symptoms first noticed:____/____/______


Symptoms spreading? [ ] Morning Sun [ ] All Day Sun [ ] Shade [ ]


Lawn, Flower bed, Pot, House? _____________ Recent Landscape work? ______________

Watering days per week __________________


Type of emitter; Drip? [ ] gph? _____

Shrubbler [ ] gph? _____ Other:________


Watering minutes:______ times per day:_____


Number of emitters _____ Location________



Emitter / Canopy Coverage % _____

Soil OVER rootball [ ] none [ ] inches/fraction

put an X for each emitter


Last time fertilized:_______ Fertilizer:_______


Last use of Insecticide:_______ what:_______ Last use of Fungicide:_______ what:__________


Use of any weed killer in the vicinity:_________ What:_____________ When:____________


Neighbors use of weed killer:_______________ What:_____________ When:____________


Insects observed in your landscape:___________________________________________________






NOTICE: When we do not receive complete information regarding your plant, we can not make accurate diagnosis of what might be the problem. The fundamental issues related to watering must be addressed no matter how certain you are that watering is not the problem. Effective troubleshooting requires that we understand every parameter regarding your plant. Often a plant has serious issues and is located near to, and cared for exactly like a different plant that is doing fine. In these cases it is not unusual that there are significant soil differences even though the two plants are in close proximity. Please bear with us as we ask you these many questions. It is only our hope and intent to discover ALL the problems and potential problems with your plant.





2006, Star Nursery, Inc. Copy Provided courtesy of Star Nursery