In general, if you have plant pests and diseases, the first thing you need to do is to find out more about the plant. Learn its natural tendencies, growth habit, preferences, and weaknesses (in terms of insects and susceptibility to particular diseases). Then read diagnostic books, search on the internet, call your extension agent, contact the Master Gardeners, or visit a public garden. For more resources, look at the following tabs/pages on http://www.pegplant.com: 1) Master Gardener, 2) Public Gardens, 3) Nurseries, and 4) Soil Tests.
One of the great, free resources available to gardeners in Northern Virginia are the plant clinics sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE). If you have a gardening problem or question, you can visit the plant clinics at select farmers markets, public libraries, and special events to get answers to your questions and solutions to your dilemmas. All are staffed by volunteer Master Gardeners who have received training from the VCE to answer general gardening questions; questions about pests, diseases, or weeds; and identify plants.
In addition to the free plant clinics, there are two other places to go for your gardening challenges if you live in Fairfax or Arlington County or the City of Alexandria. There is an Arlington VCE office at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, and a Fairfax VCE office at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 1050 of the Pennino Building. Call the Fairlington help desk at (703) 228-6414, between 9 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday, year round, or visit in person, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call the Fairfax help desk at (703) 324-8556, between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday, April through October, or visit in person, or e-mail at email@example.com (hours are Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 am to 12:30 pm November through March). Other Virginia counties have similar resources, this link provides the contact information for each county’s VCE office http://www.ext.vt.edu/offices/index.html
The University of Maryland Extension’s Home & Garden Information Center offers an extensive online library of lawn and garden information and a free online service to answer questions from Maryland and DC residents. Submit lawn, garden and pest questions to: http://extension.umd.edu/learn/ask-gardening. Answers are provided by Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturists and University of Maryland Extension specialists.
In Montgomery County, regularly scheduled plant clinics are located at public libraries and farmers markets, including a few other places listed below. Contact them to find out where and when. The Montgomery County Master Gardeners website provides additional resources.
- Brookside Gardens, Saturday 10:00 am to 1:00 pm until November 17; Sunday 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm until November 18; and Wednesdays 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm until September 26
- Chevy Chase Audubon Naturalist Society, Saturday, 10 am to noon until September 29
- Derwood Extension Office at 18410 Muncaster Rd., Derwood, hotline (301) 590-9650 until October 30, on Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Doctor Houseplant: An Indispensable Guide to Keeping your Indoor Plants Healthy and Happy by William Davidson, Cool Spring Press, 2020
Pests and Diseases by Andrew Halstead and Pippa Greenwood, DK Publishers, May 2018
Home Gardener’s Garden Pests and Diseases: Identifying and Controlling Pests and Diseases of Ornamentals, Vegetables, and Fruits by David Squire, Creative Homeowner, 2016
What’s Wrong with My Plant (And How Do I Fix It?) (2009);What’s Wrong with my Vegetable Garden (2011); What’s Wrong with my Fruit Garden (2013), What’s Wrong with my Houseplant (2016) by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth, Timber Press
The Gardener’s Guide to Common-Sense Pest Control: Completely Revised and Updated by William Olkowski, Helga Olkowski, Sheila Daar, Taunton Press, 2013
The Practical Encyclopedia of Garden Pests and Diseases: An Illustrated Guide to Common Problems and How to Deal With Them Successfully by Andrew Mikolajski, Anness Publishing 2012
Good Bug, Bad Bug by Jessica Walliser, St. Lynn’s Press, 2011
The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control: A Complete Guide to a Healthy Garden and Yard The Earth-Friendly Way by Barbara W. Ellis, Fern Marshall Bradley, and Deborah L. Martin, Rodale Press, 2010
Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver by Fern Marshall Bradley, Rodale Press, 2007
Better Homes & Gardens Garden Doctor Advice from the Experts, Meredith Corporation, 2005
Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw, Princeton University Press, 2004
Reader’s Digest, Gardener’s Problem Solver, Miranda Smith, 2004
Insect, Disease and Weed ID Guide: Find-it-Fast Organic Solutions for Your Garden by Linda Gilkeson, author; Jill Jesiolowski, editor; Deborah L. Martin, editor, Rodale Press, 2001
Pests and Diseases: The Complete Guide to Preventing, Identifying, and Treating Plant Problems by Pippa Greenwood, Andrew Halstead, A.R. Chase, Daniel Gilrein, American Horticultural Society, 2000.
Weeds of the Northeast by Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal, Joseph M. DiTomaso, Cornell University Press, 1997
Produced and written in January 2015, updated July 2021. Copyright Peggy Riccio and pegplant.com