Rhododendron leaf problem.

This photo (
http://www.cribmail.com/leaves.jpg ) shows leaves of two rhododendrons planted on the western foundation of my home outside Boston. The plants have had these rust-colored spots since we bought the house six years ago. The plants get strong afternoon sun and probably not much water from the sprinkler system - is this heat damage or a disease? The plants have flowered every year, but don't have many leaves.
Thanks in advance for any help.
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One Possibility:
Light green or yellowish patches on leaves sometimes accompanies by brown spots on the back side of leaves is a sign of rhododendron powdery mildew (Microsphaera azaleae) . One of the puzzling aspects of this fungal problem is the fact that two different affected rhododendrons vary in appearance. Rhodendron cultivar 'Unique,' for instance, shows almost no upper leaf changes, other than occasional very faint lighter yellowish areas, while the underside of the leaves will be completely covered in brown spots. A deep green leaf may begin to show lighter green patches, and these areas will gradually become more yellow. Another cultivar, 'Virginia Richards,' gets brownish purple spots on both tops and bottoms of leaves . This common disease is named rhododendron powdery mildew despite how little the symptoms resemble the familiar fungal disease often seen on roses and azaleas. Usually the disease doesn't produce the familiar white powder-like spores, although late in the summer some may become visible. The disease manifests instead as color changes in the leaves, followed by defoliation toward the end of the growing season. Many rhododendrons, if basically healthy, will coexist with the disease and seem to outgrow or at least survive the symptoms. Last year's leaves, once they have been hit by the disease, will always have it, with symptoms persisting from year to year until the leaves drop off. High relative humidity at night and low relative humidity during day with 70-80 F (22-27 C) temperatures is ideal for the disease to flourish.
Keep rhododendrons healthy to help them manage this problem. If you notice symptoms on last year's leaves, consider protecting the new growth with a fungicide . Apply it now to the new growth as it expands, before symptoms appear on this spring's leaves. Fungicides won't get rid of the existing problem on old leaves. A new fungicide, 'Remedy,' which is a potassium bicarbonate (made by Bonide Company), is registered for the problem. Thorough leaf coverage is necessary with all fungicides. Fungicides containing sulfur (such as Safer Garden Fungicide RTU) are also registered. Others are Funginex (sold as Ortho RosePride Funginex Rose and Shrub Disease Control Concentrate.) Be very careful to read all label instructions, and wear protective goggles and gloves. Funginex can be corrosive to eyes. For more information see the section above on 'azalea powdery mildew'. The symptoms are different, but the organism and control are the same.
Rhododendrons that have been hybridized with Rhododendron cinnabarinum as one of the parent plants do get the disease severely. Two of those are 'Elizabeth' and 'Lady Chamberlain.' The Cornish Cross hybrids, including 'Virginia Richards,' 'Seta' and 'Mrs. G.W. Leak' seem vulnerable also.
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