The last few years certainly have been a challenge for many of us.  One unexpected consequence of the pandemic? Many who were quarantined at home decided to become gardeners.  Seed companies reported a boom in sales during the pandemic and, unlike other trends, (zoom cocktails, sourdough starters or dress shirts with pajama bottoms), it looks like gardening is here to stay.  To those new to gardening and to those more seasoned gardeners, we are here to help you every step of the way.  

We are the UConn Home and Garden Education Center, which is made up of three branches; the education center; the soil nutrient analysis laboratory; and the plant diagnostic laboratory. The education center is your first point of contact, where you will be greeted by horticultural consultants Dennis Tsui, Pamm Cooper and Marie Woodward.  Our mission is to answer your questions about anything related to home gardens and landscapes.  Our goal is to give you the best science-based response. In addition, we often rely on our other two branches for information, but that’s just the start of the services they provide. 

Dawn Pettinelli

Good gardening begins with knowing all you can about your soil, and The UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory, headed by Dawn Pettinelli, Associate Cooperative Extension Educator, provides home gardeners a means to test the fertility of their soil and, through a comprehensive report, receive environmentally sound fertilizer and lime recommendations. 

Dr. Nick Goltz

Identifying the cause and nature of plant problems is often the key to maintaining healthy gardens and landscapes, and that’s where Dr. Nick Goltz, plant pathologist, comes in. He heads the Uconn Plant Diagnostic Laboratory and is an expert in diagnosing plant problems including diseases, insect pests and abiotic causes.  Dr. Goltz has a passion for plant health and integrated pest management, (IPM).  He especially enjoys working with homeowners to find holistic and comprehensive solutions for any plant problem they may have.

The three branches of the center are available to gardeners year-round.  To access our services, you can reach us by phone, (860-877-6271), by email, (, or you can visit the center the Radcliffe Hicks Arena, 1380 Storrs Road, unit 4115, Storrs, CT. Our hours are Monday- Friday 8:30am -4:30pm.

Collecting and Submitting Samples

One of the most common questions we are asked is how to collect samples that are of good diagnostic quality.  Each laboratory website has detailed instructions on how to do so.  For the Soil Nutrient Analysis lab, there is a page with instructions on how to submit a soil sample at:

Soil Sampling Instructions

The plant diagnosis laboratory has a form with instructions on how to collect plant sample at the bottom of the submission page: 

Plant Submission Form

Samples can be mailed in or brought into our center during our office hours, (see above).

Emailing us with a question?

If you’re emailing us with a question or problem, it can be helpful, (but not necessary), to include a few photos with it.  This can help us determine our response. 

To learn more, you can visit our website: where you will find the latest news, blogs and fact sheets about all things for your home garden.  We are ready to help make your home garden a success year after year. 


The UConn Home and Garden Education Center offers information on all things horticulture. Our mission is to give the public answers to their plant and insect related questions by our well-trained horticulturists and staff via phone calls, emails and in person. We provide outreach from UConn to the citizens of the State of Connecticut and many other states, through the Cooperative Extension System and the Plant Science and Landscape Architecture Department. We may be contacted at:

UConn Home and Garden Education Center

Room 4, 1380 Storrs Road

Storrs, CT 06269-4115





Powdery Mildew on Squash Leaves, C.Quish photo

Powdery Mildew on Squash Leaves, C.Quish photo

Milkweed Beetle, C.Quish photo

Milkweed Beetle, C.Quish photo

We diagnose plant diseases and identify insects, and solve plant problems. Samples of plant material and insects can be mailed or brought to our office located in Storrs on the UConn campus. If a physical sample is received, there is a lab fee of $15.00. There is no charge for emails, phone calls and advice. All of us truly love our jobs, and could (and do) talk about plants all day long!


IPhone and IPad App –  The UConn Home and Garden Education Center’s Plant Diagnostic Lab in conjunction with Purdue University, has developed an IPhone and IPad App for folks to submit photos of plant problems.If you don’t have an IPhone, email us directly. All submissions may include plant disease or insect problems, and plant or insect ID. It is a free service and free to download. To find the app, search for ‘plant diagnostic sample submission’ at the app store.

When we are not busy helping people, we write about gardening to keep you informed. New research and current happenings in the environment will be made known to the public through our many ways getting the news out. Several of us develop and present talks to garden clubs and other groups around the state. Some also lecture in the The UConn Master Composter Program and the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program. We have a booth at the CT Flower and Garden Show in Hartford during the month of February each year.


UConnLadybug Blog – If you are reading this, you already know we have a weekly blog! Our well-versed group of five take turns writing about gardening, plants, pest, insects, birds and just about anything we think might interest our nature centered audience. We each have a little bit different style to enlighten and educate.


Newsletter Subscription

Home and Garden Newsletter Subscription


Home and Garden Newsletter – A quarterly paper newsletter mailed to you home contains timely and accurate information from faculty and staff throughout the college and eight Extension Centers who contribute their knowledge and expertise on a wide variety of issues such as entomology, food safety, drinking water, soil testing, home horticulture, lead poisoning, indoor air quality, septic system management and family financial management. Cost is $10.00 per year.



E-Update monthly newsletter – Dawn Pettinelli, our manager, scours the internet for science based, university researched and accurate articles and tidbits of timely information, to gather all that knowledge in one place which is then sent out through our listserv to those wishing to receive it. She also includes what is happening in the landscape during that particular month. It is informative and comforting to know others may be having the same problems and how to handle them. If you wish to have your email added to our Listserv, send an email request to

Soil Testing in Process

Soil Testing in Process

UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory – Have soil tested for pH and nutrient levels, lead screening, organic matter content and soil texture by visiting  UConn Soil Testing Lab Their goal is to increase the public’s awareness of the benefits of soil testing and the necessity of environmentally sound soil fertility management programs. The lab also functions as a teaching resource where CANR graduate students learn to run their samples on sophisticated equipment and as a base for numerous outreach activities.


Facebook – We are on facebook as UConn Home and Garden Education Center. Please Like us to see great photos and more current happenings in the natural world around us.


Website – Last, but not least, we have a website. Our fact sheets are located here,  as is a lot of other information. We are the midst of creating a new one, but are leaving the original in place until the new website is unveiled.


-Carol Quish

Enough of this snow and cold weather already! I am sure that many of us are tired of shoveling, snowblowing, slipping and sliding, rearranging schedules and high heating bills and really need a breathe of spring right now. Thank goodness for the Flower Shows and the one I spent all day at yesterday was the 33rd Annual Connecticut Flower & Garden Show at the Convention Center in Hartford.

In part that was because the UConn Home & Garden Education Center has an information booth there staffed by UConn horticulturists and UConn Master Gardener Coordinators and Volunteers available all 4 days to answer your gardening questions. UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab staff are also at the show offering free soil pH testing and limestone recommendations. We only got two soils yesterday which considering the amount of snow covering most of our yards at the moment is not surprising. The important thing about tabling at the show is really to let the folks of Connecticut know what the UConn Departments of Plant Science/Landscape Architecture and Extension can offer them in terms of advice and services for problems in the home and landscape.

UConn Home & Garden Education Center Booth

UConn Home & Garden Education Center Booth

Two other UConn Home & Garden Education Center staff, Carol Quish and Pamela Cooper, along with myself have or will be speaking at the Flower Show. I noticed at least a couple of UConn Master Gardeners will also be giving presentations as well as many other skilled and knowledgeable horticultural professionals. If you are attending the show, check out the free seminars.

My favorite part of the show is the FLOWERS, of course! So many to view! Arrangements in the Federated Garden Clubs of CT competitions, the floral arranging demonstrations by CT Florists, the lovely blooming plants in the landscapes, and all the plants and garden themed items to buy.

Floral Arrangements and Lovely Landscapes

Maybe Pondering Creations Floral Arrangements and Lovely Landscapes

The creativity of the flower arrangers, landscapers and the various merchants is really amazing. I also love finding new garden products and unique craft items. So here’s a few photos of what caught my eye – no endorsement is meant. This is just a small taste of what you’ll find at the show. Do come see for yourself and stop by the UConn booth to say hi!

Garden On a BBQ Grill!

Garden On a BBQ Grill!


Hanging Terrariums by Naturesworks

Hanging Terrariums by Naturesworks


Tower Garden by Juice Plus+

Tower Garden by Juice Plus+

Mushrooms by  ripple Pottery

Mushrooms by
Ripple Pottery

Dawn P.