During last week’s Master Gardener training session, Julie Weisenhorn, the state program director, reviewed some of the resources available to Master Gardeners in Minnesota. Many of these resources are also available to the public and probably the most useful one is the Garden Info page the U of M hosts.
This page has three top-notch tools for gardeners in its diagnostics section. First, is “What’s Wrong with My Plant,” which allows gardeners to use a decision-tree type format to figure out what’s ailing their plants. First you pick the plant type from broad categories, then more specifically. Then, you check the symptoms you are seeing to find out what might be the problem. Say your spruce tree has discolored needles. You choose evergreens, then spruce, then check discolored needles. From there, you’ll see a variety of possible diseases, including winter injury (no surprise there!) and spruce needle rust. Each option includes photos to assist with visual identification and a link to more information about causes and what to do.
The other two diagnostic modules work in a similar fashion. One helps you identify insects and my favorite is the “Is this plant a weed?” module. In spring, when you are not sure what you’ve got, this site can help you decide what to pull and what to leave alone. (When in doubt, I usually leave alone.)
In addition to the diagnostics, the page is a gateway to other University information, including fact sheets on dozens of plant, landscape and design issues, the Yard and Garden newsletter, and the Ask a Master Gardener question line.
Next time you are stumped by a garden problem, check this page out first.