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Pothos Leaves Looking Like Swiss Cheese? 7 Reasons for the Holes

Pothos Leaves Looking Like Swiss Cheese? 7 Reasons for the Holes

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Are your beautiful pothos plants showing holes in their leaves? Then this article is for you.

Today, we’re discussing the causes of pothos holes in leaves, how to treat them, and how to prevent them. Let’s get started!

Why Do My Pothos Leaves Have Holes in Them?

If you notice holes on the leaves of your pothos plant, your first thought would probably be something along the lines of “why did this happen?”.

Unfortunately, pinpointing the exact culprit behind this plant deformity can be tricky since there are a bunch of reasons that could be the cause.

The following is a breakdown of the possible explanations behind the appearance of pothos holes in leaves:

1 – The Presence of Leaf Mining Flies

The first and most common cause of holes popping up in your pothos leaves is leaf-mining flies.

These tiny critters attack healthy and diseased plants alike, munching on their leaves and leaving behind holes as evidence. They can also prevent your pothos plant from thriving and growing due to the state of stress induced by the insects.

  • One particularly common type of leaf-mining fly that attacks pothos is known as Liriomyza melanogaster.

A huge issue with leaf-mining flies is that they can be difficult to find as they come out only at night and hide during the daytime. Additionally, they spread quickly and are pretty challenging to get rid of.

2 – Insect Infestations

Other than leaf-mining flies, other types of insects can attack your pothos plants and cause brown holes in their leaves. Some examples of such bugs include:

  • Flea beetles: these produce small irregular holes between leaves’ veins.
  • Caterpillars: these are likely to leave irregular holes on the outer edges of the leaves.
  • Earwigs: these cause jagged holes in leaves at night, especially after heavy watering.
  • Bush crickets: these produce irregular holes and are active mostly at night.
  • Mealybugs: these feed on the sap of the plant, causing holes, yellowing, dieback, stunting, or even death.
  • Snails and slugs: these leave behind small to medium holes accompanied by slime trails.

Granted, not all of these insects are as common to come across when caring for indoor houseplants as those leaf-mining critters, but there’s still a chance they’re the culprits behind your pothos holes.

3 – Plant Diseases

Various fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases can strike your pothos plant and damage its foliage with nasty holes. That said, the two following diseases are most likely to be the culprit:

Shot Hole Disease

The shot hole disease is a fungal disease that can appear in indoor pothos if it often sits in wet soil because the fungus thrives in moisture.

Shot hole disease starts with the formation of purplish or reddish spots on the pothos leaves. After some time, these spots turn more obvious and become visible as gunshot holes scattered across the leaves.

Keeping your watering practice in check is the best way to avoid shot hole disease.

Leaf Spot Disease

The leaf spot is a bacterial disease that spreads extremely quickly among healthy plants, so there’s a good chance it’s the cause of your pothos holes in leaves.

Leaf spot disease starts as a few small, brown spots that get bigger over time and make their way to other leaves. Soon enough, you’re left dealing with dozens of holes throughout the pothos foliage.

Isolating the infected plant is a must if you notice this disease because it’s very easy to spread. You can apply a drug to get rid of lead spot disease, but prevention is the best cure in this case by cleaning the pothos leaves with disinfectant every month or so.

4 – Exposing the Plant to Direct Sunlight

Pothos plants thrive in areas with indirect sunlight or partial shade. They don’t do well in direct sunlight, so if you expose the plant to full sun for too long, its leaves will become sunburned.

This condition results in the development of brown spots on pothos leaves that turn into dark holes over time.

As such, if you have a habit of keeping your pothos outdoors, you can either bring the plant indoors or move it to a shaded location.

5 – Adding Too Much Fertilizer

While adding fertilizer can be beneficial for many plants including pothos, using too much fertilizer can hurt them.

This incident is referred to as fertilizer burn, which is when the pH levels of the soil and its salt concentration are significantly altered from the preferred values.

When this happens, you can expect your pothos to sustain irreversible damage in the form of discoloration or developing holes in their leaves.

In many cases, you’re better off not feeding your pothos any fertilizer, particularly if it’s already growing well.

6 – Not Providing Enough Humidity

If you’re not providing your pothos plant with enough humidity levels, there’s a chance you’ll see it producing holes across the leaves. This is most likely the issue if the holes appear only on the new leaves of the plant.

While pothos plants don’t do well in drenched soil, the lack of adequate humidity can also damage them and end up developing holes of different sizes in their leaves (which is a clue to fix the issue before more severe damage is sustained).

7 – Damage by Accident

Sometimes, the holes in pothos leaves are the doing of its owner! That’s right, caregivers who keep moving the plant or repositioning items around can accidentally damage the leaves.

What’s more, if you have kids or pets running around, they can get their hands or paws on the plant’s leaves and cause holes to develop, especially if your pothos are still young and tender.

What to Do if Your Pothos Leaves Have Holes in Them

If your pothos plant has holes in its leaves, you should choose the treatment based on what caused the deformity.

Here are some of the most effective solutions to help get rid of pothos holes in leaves:

1 – Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is a strong yet safe treatment option for pothos that were attacked by leaf-mining flies or other insects.

Once you make a solution according to the directions on the package, spray the soap on the top and bottom of the plant’s leaves.

Don’t forget to spray the rest of the plants in your garden just in case they’re in the early stages of infection.

2 – Neem Oil

Neem oil is another safe option to treat your pothos if you’ve narrowed down the cause of the holes to leaf-mining flies or other insects.

Similar to insecticidal soap, you’ll spray the top and bottom sides of the leaves according to the instructions on the package. Be sure to apply neem oil to other plants in your garden as a preventive measure.

3 – Horticultural oil

Most insects that infect pothos plants are vulnerable to horticultural oil. All you need to do is spray the tops and bottoms of leaves with the oil.

4 – Apple Cider Vinegar

You can use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water with a ratio of 1:5 to fight insects and diseases that may attack your pothos. Spray the solution on the tops and bottoms of the infected leaves.

You can also use this concoction as a preventive measure by spraying the entire plant every month or so.

5 – Apply a Fungicide

Spray sulfur- or copper-based fungicide directly on your pothos as it can be effective against fungal diseases.

If you’re looking to try a homemade fungicide, try adding half a teaspoon of baking soda to a gallon of water and spraying the leaves with the mixture once or so per week.

6 – Get Rid of the Affected Leaves

You may resort to removing the damaged leaves as long as they don’t make up more than 25% of the plant’s total number of leaves. Use a clean pair of pruning shears to get the job done.

7 – Re-pot the Plant

If the pothos is infected by leaf-mining flies, you should re-pot the plant because these insects live in the soil.

How to Protect Pothos Leaves From Getting Holes

Here are a few tips to keep your pothos leaves free from holes:

  • Avoid excessive watering.
  • Don’t keep the plant under direct sunlight.
  • Wipe with neem oil, horticultural oil, apple cider vinegar, or insecticidal soap mixture once a month.
  • Use fertilizer in moderation.
  • Use a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air around the plant.
  • Don’t move the plant around too much.
  • Keep the plant in a low-traffic spot away from children and pets.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a complete guide to the causes of pothos holes in leaves, how you can treat them, and how you can prevent them from developing.

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