March 14, 2011

Lawn & Garden Solutions

Do you have a garden question or pest to identify? Are you having trouble with your turf or tomatoes? Pinellas County Extension has solutions for you at two locations in the county. You can bring your fresh samples and questions to our Largo office Monday- Friday between 8am and 5pm, excluding holidays. From January through mid.-November there is plant clinic every Wednesday from 10am-2pm at the Palm Harbor Library. We also have a Lawn and Garden hotline you can call on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday from 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm. Horticulturists and Master Gardeners are standing by to give you research-based information from the University of Florida on Florida-Friendly gardening and landscaping.

In order to get the most out of your experience, here are some tips to follow when bringing us a sample:
1. STUDY your plant at your home before you come. What conditions is it growing in – full sun or deep shade? Dry or wet soil? How long has the problem persisted? How old is the plant? When does it bloom? Are other plants around it having the same problem? Look closely at the underside of leaves and note clues.

2. Has there been a CHANGE in conditions lately? A shade tree has vanished, you spread fertilizer, or has someone dug around the roots lately?

3. What STEPS have you already taken to fix the problem on your own?

4. A vital first step in diagnosing your plant is identification, so take BIG samples. We don’t need a whole tree, but one tiny leaf is hard to identify, much less diagnose what is wrong with it. How the leaves attach to the plant, color, and other factors help your plant “doctors” identify the plant. A sharp digital photo (or two or three or ten) of the whole plant and its problem area is helpful too.

5. Bring FRESH samples. Take cuttings from your troubled plant right before you leave the yard. Treat that cutting like a cut flower, keeping the cut end in tepid water.

6. If GRASS is the problem, bring in at least a 10 by 10 inch sample in a box or container, taken from the area where some of the grass is still green and some grass has turned brown.

7. SEPARATE your samples using separate containers for each plant. Pests and disease symptoms can shake loose and spread during transport.

8. If the problem revolves around INSECTS, bring in a live sample if possible. If the insect is dead, carefully place the insect in a plastic bag to bring it in. Smashed insects are hard to identify.
We are here to provide solutions for your life! For information please visit our website at or come in and see us at:

Pinellas County Extension Office
12520 Ulmerton Rd., Largo 33774
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm, excluding holidays


Master Gardener Plant Clinic at the Palm Harbor Library
2330 Nebraska Ave, Palm Harbor FL 34683
Hours: Wednesdays, 10am to 2pm, Jan. through mid-Nov.

or you can call the...

Horticulture Hotline
582-2100, option 1
Mon., Tues., & Thurs. 9am-12pm and 1pm-4-pm

Thank you to Master Gardener Sandy Huff for contributing to this article.

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