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Are you sure something is eating your rhododendron leaves? Pests and diseases, the weather and the plant’s growing conditions can all make your rhododendron leaves vulnerable. While some of these problems do actually eat the leaves, the others just make it look like the leaves are being eaten. Here’s what to look for and what to do about the problems.
First of all, check out my article Rhododendron pests and diseases. This gives an insightful view of the most common pests and diseases that befall rhododendrons. It also gives information about what to do about these issues. The most common pests that take a liking to rhododendron leaves are the adult vine weevil beetles so this may well be what eating your rhododendron leaves.
These are best removed by hand, but you can also spray them with pesticides, but I would recommend not doing this as I try to use pesticides as little as possible. It’s also worth noting that vine weevil beetles themself won’t kill your rhododendron; however, if you grow them in pots, the grubs that hatch from their eggs do eat the roots, which can kill rhododendrons grown in pots.
If you find white grubs in the roots then you can remove as many as possible by hand, and then treat with Provanto ultimate bug kill that is a drench and watered into the soil.
Another helpful guide is Why are my Rhododendron buds falling off? This identifies the main environment issue that causes problems for flower buds.
Why is my rhododendron dropping its leaves? answers the specific question in the title. However, some symptoms of the causes can look like something’s eating your rhododendron leaves.
Head over to Rhododendrons & Powdery Mildew for specific information about this common disease. The fine white powder created by this disease looks as if some pest has been there.
Leaf scorch, discussed in Why has my rhododendron got brown leaves?, has environmental causes. However, gardeners often mistake the burned-looking leaves with holes in for the work of pests.
If it looks as if your rhododendron is dying along with the leaf problem, you need to read Why is my rhododendron dying? for help on how to save it.
And if the plant itself is turning yellow, check out Why is my rhododendron going yellow? for some answers and solutions.