New rhododendron planted last season...looks terrible! What should I do...will it come out of it, put on new leaves...do I need to be spraying with fungicide??? Thank you for your time. :(
There are a few brown spots which indicate some leaf spot fungus or other infection, but this is pretty normal and doesn't warrant spraying with a fungicide. The chief damage in the photograph is very likely due to the effects of winter cold, sun and wind. Leaves become dessicated because frozen roots cannot supply enough moisture. Wait a while until you see new swelling leaf buds and prune back to just above them if necessary.
Prevention includes making sure the plant enters winter with enough water, erecting wind/sun barriers such as burlap, spraying with WiltPruf or another brand of anti-dessicant in late fall.
The photo also indicates that the seed pods left over from last year's bloom are still present. Removing these shortly after the flowers have gone by is important - more so for some varieties than others - to insure flower bud set for the following year. It's a somewhat tedious chore, but worth doing if only because the brown remnants do not drop by themselves and look pretty awful.
Thank you for all the great info! :)