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SOREC Plant Clinic – Plant Mystery Central

Grace Florjancic
Latest posts by Grace Florjancic (see all)

The Plant Clinic is one of the first volunteer efforts offered by the Oregon Master Gardeners. While OSU Extension researchers help the state’s commercial growers, the Master Gardener volunteers help our home growers. The Jackson County Master Gardener Association was formed in 1982 as a chapter of the OSU Master Gardener™ Program. The SOREC Plant Clinic began soon after and has grown and expanded from its humble beginnings.

Plant Clinic Mentor Liz Koester started her time as a Master Gardener before the Extension office made its home on Hanley Road. The old location had a very small Plant Clinic, only about a third of the size as our current Plant Clinic! When Liz was a student, there were only a couple active Plant Clinic Mentors. Now we have a dozen SOREC Plant Clinic Mentors and there will soon be more from our graduating 2023 class. Our office has seen many changes over the years to help our fabulous plant detectives solve the mysteries of Jackson County gardens.

Not all those changes have been great. From 2020 to 2022, the SOREC Plant Clinic went 100% virtual. Anyone who has had a friend or family member give vague descriptions or blurry photos of plants knows how difficult it is to solve plant problems without samples of the plant in hand. Our Plant Clinic Mentors made the best of a bad situation to help our community’s gardeners with their plant questions with phone calls and emails.

The SOREC Plant Clinic is happy to be back in person this year. Prior to 2020, the SOREC Plant Clinic answered over 2,000 questions from home gardeners each year. This year we are getting back into the swing of things and have answered 996 plant and insect questions from January through July. In addition to helping a larger number of people in the county, being back in person brings forth the best parts of volunteering in the Plant Clinic.

I asked a few Plant Clinic Mentors why they love working in the Plant Clinic so much. The most common answers were that you are always learning something new in the Plant Clinic and it is a great way to interact directly with our community. The satisfaction of solving a mystery through the gripping (and sometimes irritating) hunt for illusive answers keeps Mentors coming back. It is also a great way for Master Gardeners to get to know a wide range of other members and build some teamwork when tracking down clues. Students have said they are intimidated by the Plant Clinic when they first start but learn so much from our Plant Clinic Mentors.

Do you want to be a Plant Clinic Mentor?

Come to our interest meeting on Thursday October 19th at 2:00pm in the SOREC Auditorium. Snacks and tea will be served!


  • Certified Master Gardener
  • Winter Plant Clinic volunteer hours
  • Plant Clinic focused trainings

We hope to see you in the Plant Clinic next year!