Before You Contact a Master Gardener Helpline

To get the most accurate diagnosis, here are some guidelines and a few simple questions you should be prepared to answer when contacting us. Please also visit the Lawn & Garden FAQ to find more information for caring for your garden and landscape.

Plant Problems

  • What is the reason you need a diagnosis?
  • If known, what is name of plant; if not known what type (tree, shrub, perennial)
  • Does the plant produce flowers or fruit?
  • Where is the plant located? Is location sunny or shady, wet or dry?
  • How long has plant been in its current location?
  • What chemicals or fertilizers have been used? Is mulch used?
  • Inspect entire plant for symptoms. Problems can be more complex then they first appear
  • When did symptoms first appear?


  • Are pests just a nuisance or are they causing harm to people or property?
  • Where is highest concentration of pests?
  • When did pest first appear?
  • Describe pest (size, wings, number of legs, color, etc.).

Guidelines for Email Correspondence

  • Please include descriptions in your email that cover the questions listed above as much as possible.
  • Please provide your full name, mailing address, email address, and a daytime phone number where you can be reached.
  • Email hours/days are the same as the phone hours/days listed on this page, so please be patient in receiving your reply.
  • If you are providing digital photos as an attachment, please limit .jpeg or .tiff file size to less than 1 MB.

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences