The Q&A Archives: Black spots on rhododendrum

Question: I purchased a 3 gallon rhododendrum from Thomas Gardens in Virginia in March of this year. I see new growth and it seems to like where it is planted however today I noticed tiny black spots on many of the leaves. Some of the leaves have even curled up and are black. I also noticed that much of the new growth has a fuzzy texture (not a slick texture like the mature leaves). Is it fungus? Disease? Help...

Answer: Some varieties of rhododendron normally have slightly hairy leaves (indumentum), especially the R. yakushimanum cultivars. But there is also the chance if it is gray and powdery for instance that there is a fungal infection of some sort. The assorted discolored curled and blackening leaves are also not normal. I would strongly suggest you work with your county extension and/or a professionally trained and certified nurseryman to determine exactly what is happening wiht your plant and based on that, how to proceed. They may appreciate photos of the overall plant as well as close-ups, and/or a foliage sample or two enclosed in a clear plastic bag. I'm sorry I can't be more specific for you long distance.

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