Please note: we are located in Putnam County NY. The internet is a big place: Be sure to choose a cooperative extension location close to your home. Local, knowledgeable extension staff will best be able to help you identify pests and plants relevant to your location.
How to submit samples to the Horticulture Hotline Diagnostic Clinic
You can download the lab sample submission form that relates to your garden problem from the list at the bottom of this page of from the descriptive paragraphs below. Review instructions for each sample submission and please answer all the questions on the form to the best of your ability, back & front. DO NOT SEND PLANT OR ANIMAL SAMPLES IN THE MAIL. (they don't travel well)
Soil pH and Texture:
Taking a soil sample:
You will need a clean plastic bucket, a clean shovel, or a clean garden trowel, and a clean plastic or paper bag.
(Avoid metal containers such as coffee cans or galvanized buckets). Don’t take samples when the soil is very wet, such as after a rain. Determine the area of garden or lawn where you wish to take a sample. Does one area of your lawn perform differently? Does water pool in parts of your perennial garden? Those areas should be treated as different sampling areas. You may need to submit several samples.
From the area to be sampled, take ten random soil samples from the appropriate depth:
4” deep for lawns
8” deep for annual, perennial and vegetable gardens
(Avoid the top 1-2” )
Mix the samples together in the bucket using the trowel or shovel, and not your hands. Remove roots, rocks, insects and worms. Put about 1½ to 2 cups of this well-mixed soil in a clean plastic or brown paper bag.
Lawn/Turf problem: Cut a one foot sample from the lawn, with at least four to six inches of roots and soil attached. Place this sample in a shoebox or similar lidded container, and slip into a plastic bag (this prevents insects, such as chinch bugs from escaping).
Plant Samples: Trees: one or two arm's length of branch showing both diseased and normally growing leaves, place in a large plastic bag, seal well, and refrigerate until you can deliver the sample.
Plant Samples: Vegetables, Annuals, and Perennials: at least 12 inches of plant material, preferably including diseased or affected foliage and/or flowers as well as normally growing foliage and/or flowers, you may also include roots. Place in a large plastic bag, seal well, and refrigerate until you can deliver the sample.
Insects I.D.: Please bring more than one of the insect you want identified, as intact as possible. Please bring the insects in a sealed plastic container such as a pill bottle or plastic bag. For very small insects or bedbugs, you may submit the insect taped to an index card, and placed in a plastic re-sealable bag.
Weed I.D.: Please bring weed intact with root system, flowers, or fruit if possible, in an un-wilted condition. Place sample in a plastic bag and refrigerate until you can deliver it.
We do not identify non-insect Animals or Mushrooms
Lab Sample Submission forms:
Sick Plant? Suspect a Disease or Insect is damaging your plant? Use this form.Diagnostic checklist for Plant Samples [see instructions above]
Do you want to identify an unfamiliar plant, insect, or weed? Use this form Insect and Plant Identification Checklist [All insects must be in a sealed plastic container. See instructions above]
Simply want to know the pH and soil texture of your lawn or garden soil? Use this form. Soil pH Form
[see instructions above]
Have a problem with your lawn and aren't sure what is going wrong? Use this form. Diagnostic Checklist for Turf Samples [see instructions above]
Bring the sample to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County office along with the $10 diagnostic fee and you will receive the results within one week.
Last updated June 11, 2014