DIAGNOSING LAWN, LANDSCAPE, GARDEN PROBLEMS

plant clinicby Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent

Diagnosing plant problems in the lawn, landscape or garden can be difficult and costly when guessing. Sending a sample to a diagnostic laboratory and/or attending a plant clinic may be helpful in solving some of these problems.

A plant clinic will be held June 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Fort Walton Beach at the Okaloosa County Extension building, 127 W. Hollywood Boulevard. The plant clinic is designed to provide a place and time for people to bring in samples of plants for diagnosis, including weeds for identification.

Bring to the plant clinic a fresh sample of the weed, plant, insect, etc. This should include: a plant stem with several leaves; a 4-inch square of grass with roots attached, etc. You may also bring a sample of your soil for pH testing.

Three frequently used diagnostic services available through the UF/IFAS County Extension Service are the Soil Testing Laboratory, Plant Disease Clinic and Nematode Assay Laboratory.

  • Soil Test: There are two basic soil tests available–the standard soil fertility test, which costs $7, and the soil pH and lime requirement test, which costs $3. Results from the $7 test provide the pH of the soil and the amount of lime to apply, if needed. This test also provides the levels of phosphorus, potassium, calcium magnesium and the fertilizer recommendations for the plants you’re growing. Results from the $3 test provide only the pH of the soil and the amount of lime to apply if needed. Soil sample kits and instructions are available at your County Extension Office.
  • Disease Sample: Provided a good sample is taken, the results will tell you if a disease is associated with the sample and recommendations on control measures. The cost is $40 per disease sample. Plant disease diagnostic forms and instructions are available at your county Extension Office or online at http://plantpath.ifas.ufl.edu/clinic/index.shtml.
  • Nematode Sample: Nematodes are microscopic worms that sometimes feed on the roots of various plants including certain vegetables, lawn grasses and ornamentals. As their numbers increase in the soil, nematodes can result in stunted growth and decline in plants. The results from a nematode soil assay provide the number and kind of nematodes found along with appropriate control measures. The cost is $20 per nematode sample. Nematode assay kits and instructions are available at your county Extension Office or online at http://entemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/assaylab.

Success from results of these and other diagnostic tests is highly dependent on submission of fresh, representative samples. Follow all directions when collecting, packaging and shipping samples.

You can find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and a wealth of helpful information at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu

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