It can be frustrating and challenging when the plants in your garden or landscape are less than perfectly healthy. The key to returning your plants to health is to identify what is causing the problem. Once you know what the problem is, you can implement the correct solution. It is also important to consider the impact of the weather and climate on your plants. Many times the problems are caused by extreme heat, sudden cold, drought or excess rain.
When an insect or disease has been identified, the first lines of defense are cultural practices that can reduce the problem. These could be anything from implementing pruning practices to selecting a different variety of flower for the location. If a problem is minimal or on a small scale, hand picking insects or diseased leaves can be effective. If an insect or disease problem is so advanced or widespread that a pesticide is needed, we recommend starting with the least toxic, lowest impact products before trying harsher products. There are many organic pesticides that can be very effective on common pest problems.
Programs We Offer
Most of our workshops, classes, and events throughout the year include discussion of common pests and problems relevant to the topic and time of year. We try to include a range of pest control options in all our presentations.
You also can bring plant samples to the Extension Center for diagnosis or identification. If you bring a plant sample, please bring several leaves on a branch or stem, including flowers, fruit, or other distinguishing characteristics. For lawn samples, bring in a 3" diameter core, including roots. The fresher the sample, the easier it will be to identify. If you have to collect the sample the day before, put the sample in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator overnight. For samples that we cannot identify, we can send them to either the Plant Pathology Diagnostic Clinic or the Entomology Lab at K-State for a fee.
The Commercial Pesticide Applicator Recertification Workshop is held at the Sedgwick County Extension Center each November and provides ongoing training and education for commercial certified applicators and registered technicians. The training provides the core hour and several hours of 3A and 3B credit each year. Pre-registration is required, as the class fills quickly and space is limited. The 2023 Recertification Workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, November 15th. Check our Event Calendar for workshop updates.
How do I identify what is causing a problem for my plant?
It can be tricky to correctly identify insects, diseases, and other problems unless you have seen them before. Here are some keys to determining what is wrong:
- Has the weather been very hot, cold, dry or wet?
- Has the affected area stayed consistently wet for a period of time?
- When did you first notice the problem?
- What part of the plant is affected? New leaves? Older leaves? Entire plant?
- Are there holes in the leaves or areas that look like they have been eaten off?
- Did you or someone else spray something in the vicinity of the affected area?
- Are there spots, lesions, or discolorations on the plant?
- Is there a problem with how the plant is growing? Is it stunted? Misshapen? Leaves distorted?
If you cannot determine the cause on your own, please bring a sample to our walk-in diagnostic center located at the Sedgwick County Extension Office.
Physical Removal of Insects
Tips for Using Natural Pesticides