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NC State Extension

Submitting Samples From a Vegetable Garden or Flower Bed

en Español

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orange and yellow marigolds in flower bed

A good sample is essential for an accurate diagnosis. Please follow these instructions carefully. The instructions on this page apply to sampling herbaceous (non-woody) plants from vegetable gardens and flower beds.

Related pages…

To sample for disease diagnosis

Watch the video.

  • If possible, avoid sampling when the ground is saturated or foliage is wet from recent rain or heavy dew.
  • Dig (do not pull) several whole plants, leaving root systems intact. Choose plants that represent a range of symptoms from light to severe. If only one plant can be sent, choose one that is still alive but with moderately severe symptoms.
  • Do not shake off the soil immediately around the roots, as it protects them in transit. Soil is also used in some tests. We prefer to receive about a quart of soil.
  • Enclose the root system(s) in a plastic bag(s). Except in the case of seedlings, secure the bag around the base of the stem to prevent soil from getting on the foliage.
  • Place the entire plant(s) in an additional plastic bag and seal. Do not add water or wet paper towels.
  • Ripe fruits and vegetables should be packed in absorbent material. They should not be bagged unless coming from outside of North Carolina, in which case double-bagging is required.
  • Keep samples out of the sun, preferably refrigerated, until they can be shipped or taken to the clinic.

In addition to the physical sample, a few photographs showing the symptoms of concern and their distribution in the garden/bed can be helpful to the diagnosticians. These can be uploaded to the database along with the sample information.