Plant Problems

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 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 (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

Farmers Markets

See the link below for street addresses. Call (703) 642-0128 or see the link below to see if there is a plant clinic on the day you want to visit.

  • Annandale, Thursday, 8 am to noon
  • Burke, Saturday, 8 am to noon
  • Fairfax County Government Center, Thursday, 3 to 7 pm
  • Herndon, Thursday, 8 am to 12:30
  • Kingstowne, Friday, 4 to 7 pm
  • Lorton, Sunday, 9 to 1:00
  • McLean, Friday, 8 to noon
  • Mt. Vernon, Wednesday, 8 to noon
  • Oak Marr, Wednesday, 8 to noon
  • Wakefield, Wednesday, 2 to 6 pm
  • Reston, Saturday, 8 to noon

Public Libraries

  • Arlington Central, Wednesday, 6:45 to 8:45 pm
  • Chantilly, Saturday, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm
  • Fairfax Regional, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Oakton, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Richard Byrd, Tuesday 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

In general, if you have a plant pest/disease/problem, 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 bugs). 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 1) Master Gardener, 2) Public Gardens, 3) Nurseries, and 4) Soil Tests.


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

Web sites

Maryland’s Cooperative Extension Site

Virginia Cooperative Extension

Organic Gardening magazine,


Produced and written in January 2015, updated May 2016, by Peggy Riccio and

Copyright Peggy Riccio and

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  1. Pingback: Got Gardening Problems? Contact Your Local Plant Clinic | pegplant

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