Master Gardeners staff an Information Desk where home gardeners get personal answers to their garden questions. Our volunteer staff promotes successful gardening experiences and sustainable gardening practices by providing home gardeners with research based information from the University of California and other academic or government institutions. The volunteers have access to an extensive library, University of California Agricultural Advisors, university internet sites and a stereoscope for researching home gardening problems.
The Information Desk is located in the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Santa Rosa at 133 Aviation Blvd, Suite 109.
To provide you with a diagnosis and advice on what to do about a problem, the volunteers need as much information about the problem as they can get.
If possible, provide samples of the plant that show the problem plus samples that do not show the problem.
Plant specimens should be fresh and submitted in sealed plastic bags. Include leaves, stems, roots, flowers and fruits when possible.
Insects that are submitted for identification should be in alive and in plastic bags or plastic jars with secure lids.
If you phone or email your questions and can get to the office but not when it is open, you can leave your sample, labeled with your name and contact information, in the drop-box in front of the office. Please fill out the goldenrod-colored specimen card with your name, phone number, email address plus information about the problem. Be sure to fill out both sides of the card.
If you are unable to provide samples of plants or insects, provide clear photos if you can.
Please be ready to answer these questions. If emailing your diagnosis request, include this information in your email. In any case, provide as much information as you can.
How extensive is the problem? (On one type of plant or several? In one location or all over the garden?)
What kind of plant or plants is affected?
If you don't know either the botanical or common name of the plant, give a detailed description. Is it a tree? a shrub? a flowering perennial or annual?
Approximately how old is the plant?
If you haven't provided samples, what does the problem look like?
How much of the plant is affected?
If there are other plants of the same type near it, do they have the same problem?
Did the problem appear suddenly or has it been developing slowly?
Is this a new problem or has it occurred before?
Are insects present that seem to be associated with the problem?
Describe the insect. Color? Size? Any specific body parts that you observe?
Where did you find the insect?
When did these insects appear?
Do you know of anything that happened that may promote the growth of this insect population?
What are the growing conditions:
What part of the county do you live in? Describe the specific microclimate if you can.
What kind of sun exposure does the plant get? (sun? afternoon shade? partial shade? shade?)
What type of soil is the plant growing in? (clay? loam? sandy?)
What kind of irrigation is used? How often and for how long? Have you checked lately to see that it is working?
What fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals have been used around the plant?