Do you remember the scene in Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise is begging Cuba Gooding Jr. to “Help ME, help you. HELP me, help you! Help me, help YOU!”? It’s a pretty memorable scene and it portrays how I feel sometimes when I get the privilege of answering some of your gardening questions.

When it comes to troubleshooting in the garden, it’s going to take both of us to solve the problem. Today’s blog is a few tips on what kind of information will help us answer your questions. The more information you can give us, the better we can help you.

Rainbow Gardens is the place to come for troubleshooting and plant help.

5 Troubleshooting Tips for Help in the Garden

Troubleshooting Tip #1: Take pictures. Whether you use a cell phone or digital camera take pictures of your suspected issue on a device you can bring in to show us.

Take multiple pictures at different angles. For example: You suspect you have a problem in your turf. Take some pictures of the suspected pest, or disease issue. Close ups are great if you can get them, and if they are in focus. We also need to see the affected area in its entirety, plus the area directly around it. Zoom out even further to take a wider shot of the entire lawn and landscape surrounding it. Troubleshooting disease and insect problems can be challenging and looking at them from different views is sometimes necessary.

Same thing goes for when you need a plant identified. A beautiful picture of a flower can be better identified if we can see a good shot of the leaves and the entire plant as well.

Pictures really can be worth a 1000 words. While we like to hear your descriptions, pictures really can cut to the chase sometimes. When we get to see the “big picture”, we are able to give you the best advice.

Troubleshooting Tip #2: Bring us a sealed sample. We love when cutomers bring in leaves, stems, flowers,and even insects for identification, but please secure them in a clear, zipped, baggie.

A secured, Ziploc is a great way for us to be able to clearly see and identify the sample but not risk the spread of disease or insects in our stores.

P.S. Use gloves or tools yourself to collect your pest or disease sample and make sure to wash gloves and sterilize tools before moving on to another plant or area in the garden.

Troubleshooting Tip #3: Know or learn the basic details of your landscape. We aren’t going to be able to advise you which plants will grow successfully in your landscape if you don’t know how much or how little sun exposure your landscape gets. If you let us know it gets a half day of sun, we also need to know which half of the day. A half day of sun in the afternoon is a whole lot different than a half day of sun in the morning.
Troubleshooting Tip #4: Be as descriptive as you can. Whether contacting us via email, Facebook, Instagram, or even in person in the store, give us as much info as you can. It almost can never be too much.

A question like, “My plant turned yellow, what do I do?”, is quite difficult to answer. We will in turn ask, “What type of plant do you have? Is your plant in the ground or pot? Does your pot have drainage? Does your plant get full sun all day or how much sun does it get? How often do you water it? do you feed it? With what?”

You see how this goes? I hope I don’t sound like I’m complaining, I’m really not. One of my favorite things to do is be able to help solve someone’s gardening problem. Getting the most info up front just cuts out some of the back and forth.

Troubleshooting Tip #5: Fess up to what you’ve been doing. In order for us to know what you need to do right, we might need to know what you’ve been doing wrong. We are not here to cast judgement on anyone, we just want to get you on the right path as soon as possible.

If you are embarrassed to tell us you’ve been neglectful and have let your favorite potted plant to dry out too much, how are we going to tell you a great tip that might revive it?

(Okay, I’ll give you the troubleshooting tip anyway. You can try soaking the plant by submerging it into a taller, wider container filled with water until it the water comes just over the rim of the dried out plant. Leave it in thereuntil the root ball and soil are totally soaked…could take a couple hours to remove all the air pockets in order to allow your roots to get the water they need to recover.)

I think I can speak for everyone at Rainbow Gardens when I say we all love troubleshooting your garden problems. I just¬† wanted to give you some tips that will “help us, help you” get the best gardening help possible!

Much thanks to all of you, who make our jobs possible!

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy