Plant clinic

Plant Clinic is a diagnostic facility associated with the Botany and Plant Pathology Departments at Oregon State University.

Oregon State University is a land-grant university whose mission, in part, is to conduct research and share research-based education with the public. This is offered through the efforts of the OSU Extension faculty, staff and trained volunteers. In the Horticulture program, those who have completed the extensive series of classes and received certification are awarded the standing of an OSU Extension Service Master Gardener.

In Central Oregon, the horticultural information is shared by providing education through classes, demonstrations in community gardens and publications. Although there has been a continued presence of virtual classes and online plant clinic these past 19 months, public awareness of Master Gardener benefits has somewhat diminished.

Considering the abnormal weather pattern these past weeks, drought conditions and water regulations being enacted, plus reports that the Pandora moth has returned, the announcement that the OSU Extension Master Gardener Plant Clinic has reopened is welcomed news.

We don’t know how these new conditions will or has affected our gardens and landscape, but I feel certain plant life isn’t quite the same.

Plant Clinic is a diagnostic facility associated with the Botany and Plant Pathology Departments at OSU. Plant Clinic is educational by helping clients recognize the plant problem and helping them manage the disease or disorder using the proper control methods, including cultural, biological, and chemical methods.

The Deschutes County OSU Extension Plant Clinic is currently open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., serving Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. Check in at the main OSU Extension office at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. Please be aware the clinic may not be staffed every day since it is reliant on the volunteers and their availability, you may want to call 541-548-6088. There are provisions if you arrive and are unable to consult.

As with all diagnostic work, the more information you provide the more accurate your diagnosis and treatment will be. Coming in with a partial branch or stem and relaying that “it has a black bug” isn’t much help. The following are a few items of information to provide:

  • What type of plant is it and do you know the recommended growing conditions?
  • When was it planted?
  • When was the condition first noticed?
  • Have symptoms been developing over a long period of time, or have they appeared suddenly?
  • What parts of the plant are affected?

If possible take a sample of the affected area (branch or twig) along with a healthy branch. If using photos, take photos of area around the tree or bush. Where do you live? Irrigation system and schedule — prior to water regulations being enforced. Location of plant in landscape exposed to abnormal winds, sun? Has there been any heavy construction equipment on your property or close to the affected plant?

Turf grasses are apt to be of concern this year. Provide 6”x 6” samples of turfgrass from the transitional site-healthy and unhealthy. The sample needs to be deep enough to be able to examine the roots.

Curled leaves (other than from the extreme heat) could be a sign of herbicide damage. Herbicide drift could be the cause of someone spraying who hasn’t followed the directions of when and how to spray.

Bring in leaves with signs of insect damage along with an uninfected sample. Notched leaves could be a sign of vine weevil. Discolored blotches on leaves, rolled leaves, usually indicate insect damage. Look closely and live capture an insect you think may be the culprit. That’s why you save those orange pill containers.

With the unusual weather, I suspect there will be indications of problems with pines and conifers. If you notice unusual coloration or indications of abnormal insect activity, check-in with the plant clinic.

In addition to helping you problem solve, the volunteers will provide resources that will be helpful in the future.

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