Holes can appear in pothos leaves overnight caused by leaf miners, fungal leaf spot, bacterial infection or snails. To get rid of sap sucking insects take the plant outdoors and spray it with neem oil. Keep the plant regularly fed and watered as healthy plant will be more resistant to pest and fungal attack.
This article will explore the top causes of holes in pothos leaves and how to prevent this from happening.
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8 Causes of Holes in Pothos Leaves with Solutions
Pothos plants can be affected by bugs, fungus and bacteria. Check out the top causes of holes in the leaves of pothos plants.
1. Leaf miners
There are hundreds of species of leaf miners (liriomyza) which can dig into the pothos leaf tissue causing holes or lines. They dig through the leaf and mine for water and sap. Leaf miners can affect indoor and outdoor pothos.
These tiny flies can be hard to spot as they are only 2-3mm in length but they can cause damage to pothos leaves overnight.
Leaf miners are easily treated with neem oil. I like to buy neem oil in a concentrated mix and dilute it at home. Mix up neem oil with water in a clean spray bottle. Take the pothos plant outside and spray the leaves thoroughly.
This will usually need to be repeated again in 4-5 days. This will catch any larvae left on the leaves. Neem oil is a natural extract from the neem tree. This organic treatment is perfect for sap sucking insects like leaf miners which can bury into the pothos leaf.
Check out Neem oil here on Amazon.
2. Fungal leaf spot
Fungal infections on the leaves will usually appear as dark spot which can eventually turn brown, yellow and lead to holes in the leaves. Fungus can get on the leaves form other plants, the soil or it can exist on the plant before you buy it.
Always check over your plant thoroughly before purchasing. Look at the leaves closely for any dark or light spots that can eventually lead to holes.
Fungal leaf infections can be treated with copper fungicides or natural fungal sprays. The leaf will need to be thoroughly sprayed outdoors to treat the problem.
Bacteria infections can be harder to treat and the best way is to prune off any damaged vines. Pothos can grow back quickly when the damaged leaves and stems are removed.
Avoid watering the plant directly on the leaves. This will reduce the risk of the plant developing these infections. This is particularly important during winter when the weather is cooler and the leaves can stay wet for longer.
3. Sun damage
Pothos plants are sensitive to sunlight and a sudden move from the shade to direct light can cause immediate damage to the leaves. This will cause them to turn yellow, brown and they can quickly droop or develop damage.
Holes will tear easily in the pothos plant and the plant can quickly die from too much sun exposure. I moved my pothos outdoors for a few hours in the afternoon while I was cleaning indoors. The sun caused the whole plant to wilt, caused leaves to turn yellow and holes would tear easily.
Protect pothos from the harsh afternoon sun by placing them away from windows. Keep them at least 2-3 feet away from the glass so the radiant heat does not damage the leaves. Pothos like bright, indirect light which will help them to grow well and still photosynthesize.
Outdoor pothos will need shade from a nearby tree or verandah to keep them protected from direct sun.
Indoor pothos can be attacked by mealybugs. These annoying bugs can find their way onto your pothos, attach to the stems and suck the sap from the plant. This will cause the leaves to wilt, become brittle and holes can tear into the leaf.
Mealybugs are easily treated with neem oil. I like to start by taking the pothos outside and spraying it with water to remove the bugs that are not tightly attached. Wait for the plant to dry and then follow up with a thorough spray of neem oil.
Repeat the process again a week later to remove all of the mealybugs. If the problem is not dealt with the mealybugs can continue to suck the sap from the pothos stems and cause leaf damage.
Aphids can cause holes in outdoor pothos plants. These tiny green or brown bugs will stick to the veins or stems of the pothos plant. These bugs will cause the leaf to wilt, turn yellow and then brown. This leaf damage can develop into torn or holy leaves.
Outdoor pothos plants can be attacked by aphids, most commonly in spring. Treat them with neem oil to get rid of the aphids quickly. They usually only need 1-2 sprays of neem oil to treat the aphids.
6. Snails and slugs
Outdoor pothos plants can be eaten by chewing bugs including snails and slugs. These creatures will crawl out from the organic matter on the ground to pothos leaves. Look out for holes or chew marks on the edges of leaves. If you get up early you can sometimes catch the slugs and snails before they return back into hiding away from birds.
They will leave a silver trail where they have visited and crawled.
Snails and slugs can be caught in a beer trap. Fill a shallow dish with a small amount of beer and they will crawl in and die. You can surround pothos with used coffee grounds or crushed egg shells to help to form a barrier around your pothos.
Outdoor pothos plants can be attacked by caterpillars. These bugs will feed on the soft leaves chewing holes and laying their eggs on the plant. It is rare to get caterpillars on indoor pothos but check the plant before bringing it indoors if it has been outside.
Caterpillars can be flicked off with gloved hands or a small spade. Shake them off into a bucket of water mixed with dish liquid to keep them away from good. Avoid using nasty pesticides which can harm wildlife or pets.
8. Physical damage
The final cause of holes in pothos leaves is physical damage. This could from kids, pets or just simply walking past the plant. Pothos have delicate leaves that tear easily. Put them on a high shelf out of the way or grow them in a greenhouse outdoors to prevent holes.
Should you prune pothos leaves with holes?
You can use clean secateurs to remove pothos leaves with holes. This is important if the leaves have been affected by fungus or bacteria. Throw the affected leaves in the bin rather than adding it to a compost pile.
Pothos leaves that have holes from insects can be removed or left on. You can prune the whole stem back to the next healthy leaf or you can just remove the leaves with holes.
How to prevent holes in pothos leaves
Here are a few tips to help to prevent holes in pothos leaves. Healthy pothos plants will be more resistant to pest attack, fungus and bacteria.
- Avoid watering directly on the leaves – this will help to prevent fungus and bacteria from making holes in your leaves
- Only fertilize pothos twice per year – avoid overfertilizing as this can cause leaf damage. Apply a general indoor plant food in spring and fall to keep pothos happy.
- Water pothos regularly but avoid overwatering. Pothos can suffer from root rot if they are watered too often. Test the soil with your finger before adding more water.
- Choose good quality potting soil to plant pothos. This will allow for good drainage and give the plants the water and nutrients they need.
- Place pothos in filtered light – Give pothos filtered light throughout the day so they can photosynthesize and grow strong leaves, stems and roots. This will help to protect them from pest attack and holes in their leaves.
Top Causes of Holes in Pothos Leaves | Summary
Pothos leaves can develop holes if they are attacked by pests, if they are affected by fungus or bacteria. Look out for tiny leaf miners which can make holes and lines in your pothos leaves. Remove any leaves with bacterial spots and trim any old leaves with holes to tidy up your plant.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.