New rhododendron leaves look pale

(Question)

IMG_2729Hello, All the new growth looked pale and I thought it was lack of water as it has been dry. When I touched the leaves I realized they were all completely covered in a thin pale film and when I rubbed it off they were shiny underneath. I did see a black wormy kind of thing on one shoot but it fell off and I could not find it. It was planted last fall, bloomed on half of it this year and the rest looks healthy. I took a pic and have scrapped off the film to show you. Any advice greatly appreciated! Many thanks for all you do to help us!!

(Answer)

“Fur” on the top and bottom of leaves is a common and natural feature of many rhodendrons. Rhodo collectors prize those shrubs that exhibit this feature. The official terms for this covering are indumentum for the hairs  on the underside of the leaves and tomentum for those on the upper side of leaves.  The hairs on the upper surface of the leaves will probably disappear over the summer, while those on the bottom may remain.