Sample Submission Instructions

General Guidelines:

  1. Collect fresh specimens and ship to the lab as soon as possible. If shipping must be delayed, store sample(s) in a cool place until they can be sent.
  2. Send a full range of tissue, both healthy and diseased. Do not send plant material that is completely dead or dried - such tissue if colonized by secondary microorganisms which interfere with detection of primary pathogens. Do not add water or wet paper towels.
  3. It is important that you try to collect the sample prior to any pesticide applications.  Once pesticides have been applied it may be difficult to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
  4. Photos of the site are helpful – email to rane@umd.edu or print and send with sample.
  5. Fill out a Plant Problem Sample Submission Form (PDF can be found above) as completely as possible, including name of the plant, symptoms of concern, how long in the site (for landscape specimens) and any pesticides used. The more information provided, the easier it is for the clinic to make an accurate diagnosis.
  6. Pack sample(s) in a crush-proof box and send via overnight or second-day carrier. Do not mail samples at the end of the week- they will sit and deteriorate over the weekend.

Packing Guidelines by Sample Type:

1. Leaves and other soft green tissue: Wrap in dry newspaper, enclose in a Ziploc bag, and pack in a crush-proof container.

2. Whole plants:  If a root or soil problem is suspected, or the plant is generally declining, collect the entire plant. Dig the plant to obtain as many roots as possible. Wrap roots in a plastic bag and secure around stem to contain soil, and wrap entire plant in newspaper.

3. Woody branches/stems:         

  • If vascular wilt is suspected, collect wilting (not completely dead) branches at least ½” in diameter, wrap in dry newspaper, and pack in a crush-proof container.
  • If a canker problem is suspected, collect stems with both healthy and diseased portions on same branch, wrap in dry newspaper, and pack in a crush-proof container.

4. Turf Samples:  Collect turf plugs (at least 4” in diameter) that include both healthy and diseased grass. Wrap in tin foil and pack in a crush-proof container (surround plugs with packing material to keep them from moving in the box).

5. Soil/Root sample:  If a root issue or soil-borne pathogen is suspected, and the plant is too large to submit, collect and send a quart-sized bag of soil (including roots) dug from the root zone of the plant. Pack in a crush-proof container.