Help us achieve our goals:
make a donation »
Join the RHS today and
support our charity
Free personalised gardening advice
RHS members get reduced ticket prices
RHS members get free access to RHS Gardens
Reduced prices on RHS Garden courses and workshops
020 3176 5800
Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm
Make a donation
Join the RHS today and support our charity
I have forgotten my password
Keep me signed in
Register for free to receive our newsletters, add comments to blogs/articles and to save content.
Rhododendrons (including deciduous azaleas) may be attacked by several diseases, causing unsightly foliage or a lack of flowers. The most significant are powdery mildew and bud blast.
The most common specific fungal diseases that affect rhododendrons include;
They are also attacked by more generalist diseases such as;
Bud blast: control of the leafhopper, to prevent infection by bud blast, is difficult because they are strong fliers and reinvade rapidly, but fortnightly sprays of deltamethrin (e.g. Bayer Sprayday Greenfly Killer), lambda cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Bug Killer) or acetameprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) from early August for as long as the pest is active may be helpful
Powdery mildew, rust and leaf spots: The fungicides tebuconazole (Bayer Fungus Fighter Concentrate), tebuconazole with trifloxystrobin (Bayer Fungus Fighter Plus), and triticonazole (Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra and Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra Gun) are approved for the control of powdery mildew and rust diseases on ornamental plants. They would probably also give some control of rhododendron leaf spots (Bayer Fungus Fighter Plus mentions 'leaf spot of ornamentals' on the label).
Inclusion of a product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)Fungicides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining fungicides available to gardeners)
Chemicals: using a sprayerChemicals: using safely and effectivelyChemicals: storing and disposing safely
Bud blast: the fungus causing bud blast produces its spores on the black fungal 'bristles' that appear on infected buds. They are spread by water and infect buds through wounds made by the rhododendron leafhopper when it punctures the bud to lay its eggs (although some recent research has cast a doubt on this link between the pest and disease).
Powdery mildew: the biology of powdery mildew is discussed in the web profile devoted to them.
Petal blight: the fungus causing petal blight produces wind-dispersed spores on old infected flowers which remain hanging on the plant from the previous season.
Gall: the azalea gall fungus produces airborne spores on the white bloom which develops on galls. These may lodge and develop in buds in a similar way to the peach leaf curl and pocket plum pathogens, although they belong to a different group of fungi. Little is known about this pathogen.
Leaf spot: the leaf spot fungus produces spores from fungal structures on the infections, which are dispersed in water.
Rust: the rust pathogen releases airborne orange spores which spread the disease among Rhododendrons, then later it produces dark resting spores. When these germinate they infect the alternate host which is spruce (Picea spp.). Spores produced on spruce then reinfect rhododendrons.
Azalea gallBrown leaves on woody plantsHoney fungusPhytophthora ramorum and P. kernoviaePhytophthora root rotPowdery mildewRhododendronRhododendron leafhopper and bud blastSilver leafWhy has my tree or shrub died?
the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9
RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.
Register for the site or sign in to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.
cheryl 198 on 26/05/2015
my rhododendron has black covering all over leaves which can be scratched off and there's a healthy leaf underneath any idea
Orange blossom on 23/09/2014
My rhododendron is blooming now in September is this normal? Will it still bloom again in the spring?
delboy on 05/07/2014
White spots on underside of leaves and stems of
my Rhododendron , plant in full leave growth no
sign of flowers.(White spots like cotton wool)
This comment has been reported and is currently under moderation.
We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.
Join the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9