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Growing Green: Horticultural Services Available to Local Residents

The summer growing season is finally here, and the questions have started coming in droves.  Between the phone calls, emails, and walk-ins with garden samples, there is never a dull moment in the Extension office in the summer months! If you have a garden question, from plant/insect identification, lawn care and pesticide application to best practices in growing or maintaining your garden, the University of Minnesota Extension Office in Douglas County is the right place to come.

Here are a few services we offer, and some guidelines to follow when you have a question:

If you have an insect you would like to have identified: Please catch it in a clear jar and place it in the freezer overnight.  This will retain its color and keep it in the best condition suitable for identification. If you have a caterpillar, please do not place it in the freezer.  Instead, place it in a secure container with air holes punched in the top. Try to include some of the plant on which it was found, so that it will not perish prior to identification. Generally we do not accept samples that may contain human blood, the only exceptions to this are ticks and bed bugs. Please make sure that ticks and bed bugs are securely sealed and frozen prior to bringing them to the Extension Office.

If you have a plant to identify: Please take a picture of the whole plant and one or two close-ups, and email them to me at Bring in a fresh plant sample anytime on Tuesdays and Fridays or on Wednesday mornings. Collect a sample at least 6” long with leaves attached to the central stem. Place the sample in a clear plastic bag with your name and address attached.

If you require a diagnosis of a specific problem in your garden: ailing plants, insect damage, odd growth patterns, etc.:

Take a picture of the whole plant and one or two close-ups and email them to me.  Bring in a sample as per the above directions.

We do not conduct soil or water testing; however, we do have the forms and information regarding collection and submission of your samples.

For in depth diagnosis of plant disease issues, please visit The Plant Disease Clinic Website at for information on tests available and instructions on how to submit a sample.

For general gardening questions, please feel free to email me, or call me at 320-762-3890.  I am in the office all day on Tuesdays and Fridays, and on Wednesday mornings, and you are welcome to stop by for a personal consultation. On occasion, I am available for an onsite diagnostic visit, but only after an office diagnosis fails to find the root of the problem.

I will address each of your questions with time and care, and will provide you with the latest, unbiased, research based information. Come visit the office, the coffee is always on when I am in!

Robin Trott is a Horticulture Educator with University of Minnesota Extension.