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Got Plant or Insect Problems? We Can Help!

By Dawn Fradkin, Horticulture Programs Coordinator and Assistant Horticulturist

Assorted landscape problems, Photos: Martha Kirk

Have you ever had a sick plant, found a new insect in the garden, or discovered a plant problem that you didn’t know what to do about? Perhaps a favorite tree started turning brown and dropping leaves in June. Maybe a prized rose suddenly started growing strange balls on the stems. A myriad of problems can arise in plants, and the issues that cause them can be as varied as the plants themselves. What’s a plant owner to do? Well, you’re in luck. Homeowners can bring in samples of their plant (or insect) problems to the Arapahoe County CSU Extension office for identification, diagnosis and recommendations.

Last year, we formed a new team of senior Master Gardener volunteers who have advanced training to identify garden plants and pests and to diagnose diseases or disorders of plants. These experienced volunteers are trained in tree, turfgrass, native grass and noxious weed identification. With continuing education, they will also refine the skills necessary for the intricate step-by-step diagnostic process used to figure out your plant and insect problems. These specially trained volunteers understand the difference between signs and symptoms of disease and pests on plants and they know how to identify biotic vs. abiotic issues in plants. The diagnostic process can be a long and tedious one, but these Master Gardeners on the Diagnostic Team are up for the challenge.

Four Master Gardeners in Arapahoe County Extension are advanced diagnosticians, and two of them, Jeff Cole and Debbie Moody, lead the team. We have seven Master Gardeners who graduated as Level 2 diagnosticians last year, and seven new members joined the team in 2024. Our Master Gardeners are lifelong learners, and the volunteers on this team exemplify their commitment to help solve yard and garden issues that residents face. We are your first stop at CSU when dealing with a plant or insect problem. If a sample needs to be cultured or have molecular testing done to determine the issue, we will send your sample to the state Plant Diagnostic Lab at the new CSU Spur campus for further evaluation.

Bring us your plant and insect problems. You can speak to a diagnostician every Monday or Wednesday at our office from 12:00-3:00pm, May through September and drop off your sample for a nominal fee. The Arapahoe County CSU Extension office is located at 6934 South Lima Street, Suite B in Centennial, CO 80112.

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