NC State University Online Resources for Gardeners

— Written By and last updated by Elisabeth Purser
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If you are a gardener, you may need help with identification of plants, insects, diseases, or weeds at some point in your gardening journey. We are lucky in North Carolina to have three wonderful resources through NCState University available to us.

North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox

First up is the NC Extension Gardener Handbook. This is the textbook used to train Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers but can be purchased and used as a resource by anyone.

It is available for free, online  You can also purchase an electronic version or as a hardcopy at UNC PressThis Handbook has chapters that cover many topics related to gardening from ornamentals to vegetables. There are chapters on insects, weeds, and diseases with great color photos that are great for identification. 

Second is the NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. This online plant database now has over 4400 plants, with more still being added. This tool has an Identify a Plant section where you can select characteristics of the plant to identify it. You can develop a personal list of plants for your garden based on the characteristics of the plants you want, the purpose you want plants to serve, and based on your particular growing conditions. So you can develop a list for a dry, shady area of your garden and a list for a wet, sunny area. There is also a section called the Design Gallery where you can see photos of gardens and find ideas that you might use in your own garden.

The third tool is one that I have been using for close to 20 years even before I moved to North Carolina to work for Extension. It is an NC State University webpage called TurfFiles. This website has a wide range of information related to growing turfgrass – from identification of the different turfgrasses and annual maintenance calendars, to information on insect, diseases, and weeds. Like the Extension Gardener Handbook, there are great photos to help you with identification. To get to this wonderful resource, just type in the words Turffiles and NC State Univerasity in your search engine.