AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

November 17, 2017

Master Gardeners of Greene County Answer
over 900 Gardening Questions in 2017

SPRINGFIELD, MO. - When you have blight on your tomato plants and black spot on your roses, who are you going to call? During the 2017 growing season, over 900 individuals facing similar issues decided to call the Master Gardener hotline for answers.

The gardening hotline is located inside the Springfield Botanical Center. Trained volunteers in University of Missouri Extension's Master Gardeners of Greene County program operate the hotline room. During 2017, the volunteers answered 905 calls that came in from 26 different counties from around the state of Missouri.

The total number of calls for the year was down when compared to past years. In 2011, the hotline received 1612 calls. During 2016, the hotline received 1111 calls. The lowest number of calls came in 2015 with 769.

Detailed hotline records since 2011 show that 5352 of the total 7952 phone calls received at the hotline have come from residents of Greene County.

"Weather and pest events have an impact on the total number of calls received," said Kelly McGowan, horticulture educator with MU Extension and chapter coordinator. "For example, a late killing freeze around Easter one year generated lots of calls from concerned gardeners."

The hotline closed this week for the season according to volunteer hotline coordinator Lisa Bakerink. Glenn Blake, also a volunteer with the program, ran several reports showing the tremendous impact of the hotline program.

According to the caller database maintained by volunteers, the most common questions this year included plant and tree identification, disease and insect issues, vegetable and flower gardening and weed issues.

"MU Extension provides monthly training for the hotline volunteers on common topics or concerns that may be coming up in addition to their regular Master Gardener training," said McGowan.

Even though the hotline just closed for the season, phone and email messages will still be answered on a weekly basis through early March.

The Master Gardeners of Greene County operate the gardening hotline March-October of each year at the Springfield Botanical Gardens, 2400 S. Scenic Ave. in Springfield. Members of the public with gardening questions can take advantage of this free service by calling 417-874-2963 or emailing pictures and questions to

There is no charge for this service which is provided by the Master Gardeners of Greene County and the Greene County MU Extension Council.

"In fact, the Master Gardeners of Greene County are one of the few chapters in the state to host a hotline," said McGowan.

The Master Gardener Hotline is a designated representative of the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center with the Sentinel Plant Network, a USDA-sponsored collaboration of the American Public Gardens Association and National Plant Diagnostic Network.

The Hotline is one of three core projects of the Master Gardeners of Greene County chapter. The other two are demonstration gardens at the Springfield Botanical Gardens and the Waterwise Garden (formally known as the Xeriscape Garden) on National Avenue south of Sunshine Street. For more information on the hotline, demonstration gardens, educational opportunities for the public, or becoming a new Master Gardener, go to

The Master Gardener program is a popular statewide volunteer community-service organization administered through University of Missouri Extension. The organization's goal is to train gardeners who are willing to share their knowledge with others. Master Gardeners become volunteers of University of Missouri Extension and donate hours for community educational projects in horticulture.

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: University of Missouri Extension

Grid chart showing number of calls by month and year

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: University of Missouri Extension

Line chart showing total number of calls received per year

Source: Kelly McGowan, (417) 881-8909, (417) 874-2965

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