Photo of three Schutter Lab specialists examining samples

This page contains guidelines that apply to most sample types, it also attempts to address common questions, and offers some general submission tips.

Plant and insect identification are free of charge for Montana residents.  A complete list of available tests and pricing can be found on our Services and Fees page.

For additional assistance with sample submission, please contact the Schutter Diagnostic Lab by email or telephone.


  1. 5 Steps to Submitting a Sample
  2. Sample Care
  3. Shipping Samples
  4. Instructional Video
  5. Contact Information


5 Steps to Submitting a Sample

How to send a sample to the Schutter Diagnostic Lab (it's really just 4 steps):

  1. Select the appropriate submission type
  2. Download and complete a submission form
  3. Follow the collection and shipping instructions
  4. Send everything to the address listed at the bottom of this page
  5. Done! A specialist will be in contact shortly after the sample is analyzed

Useful Submission Links

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Sample Care

The tips listed here cover the majority of the submissions we receive, but it should be noted that aquatic plants and mushrooms have their own specific guidelines.

  • Keep samples as fresh as possible.
    • Avoid exposing samples to direct sunlight and refrigerate if possible.
  • Send sufficient plant material.
    • Collect samples that show various stages of the problem and include a healthy plant or plant part for comparison.
    • Whenever it is practical, include roots or the entire plant or a clump of plants. If that is not possible, include a branch or send a twig. Detached leaves or parts of leaves are seldom useful.
  • Avoid sending dead plants or plant parts, they are not useful for accurate diagnosis.
Figure 1: Photo of two plants in plastic bags, one fully wrapped, the other only around the roots

Figure 1: Bag only the plant roots and some soil (left), do not wrap the entire plant (right).

  • Package samples in crush-proof containers.
    • Never send samples in a flat paper envelope – the post office machinery causes extensive damage.
  • If you are sending a plant that includes roots, keep some soil around the root ball and off foliage.
    1. Wrap the root ball in plastic and secure with a rubber band around the base of the plant (figure 1). This prevents the soil from damaging the leaves during shipping.
    2. Loosely enclose the foliage in plastic or paper.
  • Do not add water or wet paper towels to sample submissions.

Shipping Samples

Considerations for when and how to ship a sample to the Schutter Diagnostic Lab:

Our mailing address and contact information are listed at the bottom of the page.

  • Samples can be dropped off.  The Schutter Diagnostic Lab is normally open for walk-in submissions from 9:00AM to 12:00PM, Monday through Friday (COVID-19 restrictions currently apply).
  • Mail packages early in the week to arrive by Friday.

    • Do not mail fresh samples on a Thursday (unless using overnight mail) or Friday. Store the package in the refrigerator over the weekend and mail on Monday. We want to avoid samples sitting at the post office over the weekend.

  • Include completed sample submission form with pertinent background information.
    • In-depth background information will help us identify the problem or organism and is essential for timely management recommendations. Details allow us to provide more accurate diagnoses.
  • Include photographs illustrating the problem if possible.

    • Make sure photos are in-focus.

    • Email photographs to Include your name, contact information, and the date your sample was shipped.

For additional assistance with sample submission, please contact the Schutter Diagnostic Lab by email or telephone.


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Instructional Video

This lighthearted YouTube video offers some important advice about submitting samples to the Schutter Diagnostic Lab.  Clicking on the video title will open it on YouTube:

Contact Information

Send all samples to the mailing address below. For further assistance, please contact the Schutter Diagnostic Lab by telephone or email.

We are open for walk-in clients from 9:00AM to 12:00PM, Monday through Friday (COVID-19 restrictions apply).



Schutter Diagnostic Lab
Montana State University
119 Plant BioScience Bldg
P.O. Box 173150
Bozeman, MT 59717-3150

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