Diseased herbaceous plants

How to collect and mail diseased herbaceous plants for testing

For MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics to make an accurate diagnosis, we need to quickly receive fresh and representative samples from you with pertinent information relating to the problem. While you read the following information, please keep in mind that sample quality is critical for the success of laboratory testing and that control measures depend on proper disease diagnosis. Always select live plant material (not dead or dry) that represents the problem and, whenever possible, submit whole plants with leaves and roots.

Carefully follow our instructions and contact us if you need further clarification on sample collection and/or mailing.

Steps 1-3 grouped
Left to right: Steps 1-3

Step 1. Select plant material that represents the problem. If possible, include plants showing a range of symptoms or injury (mild, moderate and severe).

Make sure plants are fresh and alive. We cannot use dead or dry plant material for proper diagnosis. Dead plants tell no tales.

Step 2. Whenever possible, send us whole plants (with leaves and roots).

Problems observed in leaves may have started at the roots. In such cases, we cannot deliver a proper diagnosis if the root system is missing.

Step 3. Bag plant roots to separate them from leaves.

Soil and potting mixes contain many different organisms that can contaminate the plant’s leaves and shoots during shipping.

Steps 4-5 grouped
Left to right: Steps 4-5.

Step 4. Place the whole plant into a second bag and seal it to retain moisture.

Do not add water or wet paper towels as this accelerates plant decay during shipping.

Step 5. Fill out a Sample Submission Form. Providing as much information as possible will help us get an accurate diagnosis. Do not place the form inside the bag with the plant material. This will prevent it from getting damped or soiled.

Avoid mailing samples on Fridays; samples are not delivered to campus on weekends and may not arrive in the lab in good condition the following week.

Ship overnight (FedEx preferred) or deliver samples directly to our facility at:

MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics
578 Wilson Road, CIPS 107
East Lansing, MI 48824

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