Holes in Pothos Leaves

Image of Holes in Pothos Leaves

You’ve had your pothos plants for some time now, and suddenly, you notice holes. After all, the Pothos plants need very little attention, and developing holes was the last thing on your mind.

The next question you’ll ask yourself is, how did my Pothos develop holes? What could I be doing wrong?   

The problem could be you or not. With that said, read on to find out about holes in Pothos leaves, the causes, and fixes.

Why are There Holes in my Pothos Leaves?

There could be a lot of reasons for holes in your Pothos leaves. But, the most common culprit is soil infestation by leaf-mining flies. Also called Liriomyza Melanogaster. These flies drill tunnels into the leaf tissue during their feeding and egg-laying. 

Other causes of holes in Pothos leaves are fungal infections, among others. 

So, we’ll look at each cause in greater detail to assist you in locating the root cause of holes in your Pothos leaves. 

Causes of Holes in Pothos Leaves

There are many causes of holes in pothos leaves. Check out each below:

1. Accidental/Physical Damage 

Remember we mentioned that you could cause holes in your Pothos leaves. Yes, you heard me right. You can cause holes in your Pothos through accidental damage. Say you decide to spruce up your house by making changes in your aesthetics. 

There will be a lot of movements involved, and if you are not careful, your plants may develop holes. You could have also placed your plants in high-traffic areas. 

Similarly, if you place the plants in positions where kids or house pets can reach, the plants may develop holes due to hand and paw contact.

The situation is worse if the plants are still young and tender. 

2. Liriomyza Melanogaster

Liriomyza Melanogaster are leaf-mining flies that eat into the tissue of your Pothos leaves. These tiny creatures are almost impossible to spot.

They hide in the potting mix during the day and come out at night to feed on leaf tissue. Technically, they are night lovers. 

These annoying creatures could have invaded your plants if you notice holes in your leaves. To make matters worse, they are the hardest flies to get rid of once they spread.

Once they start eating into your plant’s tissue, the plants may go into stress and may not grow.    

3. Too much fertilizer 

Another reason for holes in your Pothos plant is excessive fertilizer. Fertilizer is excellent for the growth of all plants, including Pothos plants. However, too much of it is dangerous. The soil’s natural PH may change due to increased salt concentration. 

In the end, the plant’s leaves will start turning black and develop holes. Additionally, fertilizers fasten the growth of Pothos plants. The plant will experience rapid growth, meaning the leaves roll out too fast. The rapid growth will overwhelm the leaves, causing them to tear and develop holes. 

Statistically, over-fertilization is the root cause of holes compared to under-fertilization. 

4. Caterpillars

Caterpillars attack outdoor pothos plants. If you have your Pothos in an outdoor garden, they are at risk of caterpillar attacks. Caterpillars feed and lay eggs on the soft Pothos leaves. They chew on the leaves, which eventually form holes. 

To identify whether the holes are from caterpillar attacks, look out for dark fecal droppings 

A thorough inspection is essential if you plan to bring your Pothos indoors. This is to check on caterpillars that may attack your indoor plants at a later stage.

Remember to check under the leaves. That is where caterpillars hide during the day and come out at night to chew your Pothos leaves.

5. Snails and slugs

Snails and slugs can also leave holes in your Pothos leaves. These creatures attack Pothos plants in an outdoor garden.

No pests beat these creatures when it comes to leaving holes in Pothos leaves. The holes are huge and very irregular. 

To identify whether the holes in your Pothos leaves result from snails and slugs, look out for silver tray marks they leave on leaves after crawling. The vast holes are also a sign to look out for. 

You are good to go if you can perform this exercise in the early mornings. Snails and slugs attack the plants in the dark and hide away in the morning to keep them safe from birds. 

6. Aphids 

Aphids are also another cause of holes in outdoor Pothos leaves in case you’re doubting, do indoor plants attract bugs? These tiny green or brown bugs are found in the veins and stems of the leaves. They are sap-sucking pests and create tiny holes in pothos leaves. 

Aphids are very tiny and are invisible to people. To identify whether the holes in your Pothos leaves are from aphids, check out for a sticky, sugary substance on the surface of the leaves. They emit this substance during sap sucking.

Aphids may cause the leaves to wilt, turn yellow, and eventually brown. 

7. Sun damage

Pothos plants are sensitive to bright direct sunlight.

Too much sun will cause pothos sunburn. The leaves will turn yellow and develop brown spots. Too much sun exposure can also lead to pothos droopy leaves.

This is because excessive sunlight can cause the plant to lose water through transpiration at a faster rate than it can absorb, resulting in wilted and drooping leaves.

If you had your Pothos plant in the shade with bright indirect light, avoid a sudden move to direct light. You can acclimatize your Pothos plants for them to get used to direct light gradually.

8. Leaf spot diseases 

Bacterial and fungal diseases can cause holes in Pothos leaves. An infected pothos plant will have black spots on the leaves. 

The leaves will eventually turn yellow and brown and develop holes in pothos leaves. Leaf spot disease and shot spot diseases are the primary suspects of holes in pothos leaves. 

To avoid experiences with leaf spot disease, always scrutinize the leaves for black spots during purchase. Also, avoid watering the plants on the leaves to keep your plants from the leaf spot disease.

9. Bush crickets 

Bush crickets are also culprits of holes in pothos leaves. Bush crickets lay their eggs both in the soil and leaves of the outdoor Pothos plant. They feed on the leaves, causing cut marks which, in the end, turn into irregular holes.

They are primarily active in summer and perform their actions at night. They are found in bushes or even window ledges. 

Finally, other possible insects that may develop irregular holes in your pothos are spider mites, mealy bugs , Japanese or flea beetles and many others.

How do You Treat Holes in Pothos Leaves

It is possible to treat holes in Pothos leaves. You only need to know the cause before commencing treatment. Different causes have different treatments.

Below are some of the treatments for each cause:

Neem oil/insecticidal soap

Neem oil or insecticidal soap help to treat holes caused by leaf miners and other bugs. Ensure to spray the neem oil treatment on both sides of the leaves. 

The most important rule is to follow the usage instructions before you start the spraying. Most importantly take the plant outdoors and spray the leaves with neem oil. 

Remember, other plants in the same spot as your Pothos could be at the same risk as your Pothos. Spray them just to be sure of their safety.

If any of the insects had crawled into other plants’ potting soil, then the spray will help eliminate them before they spread into the plants.

You can also use fungus gnat yellow sticky traps to monitor and control the infestation. Simply place the traps near your plants to capture adult gnats and prevent them from laying eggs in the soil.

Remove damaged leaves

If a more considerable percentage of the leaves have holes, it’s best to cut the leaves off. Do the cutting gradually to avoid sending the plant into stress. Also, use a pruning shear or scissors when cutting the leaves with holes. 

Always wear gloves to keep your hands free from the plant’s sap. Moreover, the sap is toxic to house pets such as cats. Wearing gloves will keep your pets safe if you cut the plant and caress your pet without washing your hands.

Since leaf miners dominate the potting soil, it’s safe to repot your Pothos plants into a new pot.   

Avoid physical damage

If you are the type that frequently changes their house decor, I strongly advise you to keep your plants out of the way. You can spot a location in your house with less disturbance and place your plants. Pothos plants will experience less disturbance if you choose to hang them.

That way, you won’t worry about knocking on your plants when you are busy making house decor changes. You will also strike the worry of kids and pets off your shoulders. Remember, we said kids and pets are also a part of the causes of holes in your Pothos leaves. 

Horticultural oil

Horticultural oils are the ideal treatment for pierce-sucking insects. But first, I recommend you use neem oil or insecticidal soap first. The application procedures are identical to neem oil or insecticidal soap. 

Alternatively, mix an apple cider vinegar solution with water and spray the same way. Depending on how your plants are affected, the method you’ll choose as treatment will determine how fast the plants will heal.  

Any other plants within the exact location of your Pothos could be infested. Therefore, spraying them will save them from further damage.

Spray fungicide made from copper or sulfur

Copper or sulfur fungicides are a good option for treating holes in Pothos leaves. You can spray the solution directly on both sides of the leaves. Avoid spraying the solution on the soil, as it won’t penetrate and reach the affected leaves. 

Before anything, always read the instructions on the bottles. It is safer to spray your plants as per the directions given. 

Alternatively, you can make your solution in the comfort of your house. Mix ½ a spoon of sodium carbonate with a gallon of water until fully dissolved.

Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray on both sides of the leaves.Practice the process once for a whole week. 

Change potting mix

Changing your potting mix is essential. This is mandatory mainly when leaf miners infest your potting soil. Leaf miners are pesky, and spraying alone may not clear them. 

When removing the soil, also remember to clean the roots with running water.

Isolate the infected plant 

Other plants are not safe near an infected Pothos plant. Therefore, move the infected plants to a different spot from the rest. Leaving the infected plant near other plants will only affect your plants. 

Once you move the infected plant, start the treatment procedures. Keep monitoring the plant until it revives and is safe from leaf miners and other bugs. 

How do You Prevent Holes in Pothos Leaves 

Sitting and waiting for your Pothos leaves to develop holes should be out of your equation. You can keep your plants from holes by:

1. Shun from overwatering

Overwatering your plants causes fungal infections. Extremely moist environments create room for fungal growth. So, keeping your Pothos in overly wet soil is not advisable. The best step is to follow the correct watering routine by checking the plant’s thirst level before you water. 

Are you wondering how to do this? Insert your finger into the soil for about two inches. If the soil is still wet, hold your watering. If the soil is dry, water your plants. If you do this religiously, you won’t have to experience fungal or shot hole disease problems. 

Also, give your Pothos plants an ample amount of water.

2. Use the right soil for Pothos

Growing your Pothos in suitable soil will determine its length of stay. Regular garden soil is okay but only suitable for some plants. Therefore I advise using soil rich in nutrients to suffice the plant’s growth.

Since fungus, bacteria, and insects find their way into the soil, you must use sterilized soil. Or, you can make your soil combination.

Doing this will provide your Pothos plants with the perfect growing conditions. And, you will keep your leaves away from leaf spot disease. 

The essential ingredients for making your potting mix are soil, sand, compost, coir, pine bark, sphagnum peat, perlite, and vermiculite.

3. Provide the Pothos with proper air circulation

Providing your plants with sufficient air circulation is essential. A plant with proper air circulation will stay healthy and away from diseases that cause holes in the leaves. To provide your plants with proper air circulation, avoid overcrowding them in the same spot.

Additionally, prune the plants when the need arises. Pothos leaves can grow dramatically and become full blocking airflow. So this is where pruning comes in. 

4. Keep your Pothos away from direct sunlight

Pothos plants don’t do well in bright direct sunlight. Too much sun will burn the leaves and hence develop holes. So, you can do your plants justice and keep them in a shade where they can receive the right amount of indirect light. 

If the spot in your house receives direct light, use sheer drapes to blind the excess sunlight from reaching the plant. It’s safer to protect your plants at all costs and keep them happy at all times. 

5. Use pots with drainage holes

Remember, Pothos plants do not do well in soggy environments. So always get the best pothos pot with proper drainage holes to drain the excess water when you water your plants. Also, note tap water and fertilizer contain salt, which is unsafe for your pothos plant health.

Having pots with drainage holes will let the excess salt in the soil flow away during watering. A plant with a high salt intake during watering and fertilizing will develop brown leaves. In the end, the leaves will turn brown.  

6. Provide your Pothos with the correct temperatures

Pothos thrive well between temperatures of 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, keep your plants in areas with the right temperatures for their growth. 

To keep your Pothos leaves safe from holes, avoid keeping your plants in spots with fluctuating temperatures. These spots could be outside or near a heating vent. 

Your plants may go under stress when exposed to extreme temperatures. 

7. Increase humidity levels

Increasing humidity will improve your Pothos plant growth. You can purchase a humidifier or get pebble trays to achieve humidity levels in your space. A pebble tray will come in handy when you water your plants. 

When the excess water comes out of the drainage holes, it will fill the pebble tray. Here the water will evaporate and improve the humidity levels surrounding the plant.

Another ideal process is misting your leaves. 

8. Fertilize your Pothos twice a year

Fertilizer is great for your plants’ growth. But, if you use excess fertilizers, it will result in rapid growth. Rapid growth means the plants will be under much pressure when the leaves sprout. As a result, the leaves may tear, developing holes. 

To save your plants from holes, get rid of excess fertilizers. You can thoroughly water your Pothos leaves in a bathtub until the excess fertilizers drain out. 

Since Pothos are not heavy on feeding, fertilize them once twice a year. If the Pothos plants are tender, you can spray them once every one to two months.

Also, follow the instructions given in the fertilizer package. This is to ensure that you feed your plants properly without straining them.

9. Avoid direct watering on the leaves

To keep your Pothos from fungal or leaf spot disease, avoid overhead watering. It is safer to water the plants near the base. Watering the plants from above will make the plants wet, which creates room for fungal diseases. 

Additionally, water the plants to the soil’s level. That way, you’ll prevent water from staying stagnant on the soil surface. 

10. Keep the soil below the plant clean

If there’s anything that insects love is a place where they can hide. It is biological for plants to shade every now and then.

Therefore, the leaves will fall on the potting soil or near the plant’s surroundings. If you don’t clean your potting soil or the surrounding area, you will create a hideout for the insects.

In the end, the plants will be at risk of pest infestation. So, your plants are safe if you make it a mandate to clean the potting mix and the surrounding.

Indoor Pothos may stay safe, but your outdoor Pothos are at a very high risk of insect attacks if you don’t clean up. 


Should I cut off leaves with holes?

Yes, it would be best if you trimmed off the leaves with holes. A pothos plant with holes in the leaf shows pest infestation or fungal infections. If you don’t trim the damaged leaves, the disease or infestation may spread to the entire leaves. This is dangerous as this may kill the entire plant. 

Why does my plant have little holes in the leaves?

Your plants may have little holes in the leaves because of bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. Leaf spot diseases and shot hole diseases are the leading causes of holes in leaves. Additionally, slugs and snails also leave little holes in the Pothos leaves. Larger slugs eat the leaves from the edges towards the center. Smaller slugs eat and leave irregular holes at the leaf center.

What should I do with the cut off leaves?

The best method is to eradicate the leaves. If you leave the leaves lying around the soil, the insects may crawl back into the plants. Also, if the damaged leaves were a result of fungal infection, the disease may spread to other plants.

Remember to clean the pruning shears after you cut off the damaged leaves. Also, Sanitize the pruning shear to prevent infections from spreading.

What should I use to cut off the leaves?

Use a clean and sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors to cut off the leaves with holes. See that you’ve cut out the entire leaf to prevent the disease from spreading. After cutting the damaged leaves, clean your pruning shear or scissors.  

Final Thoughts

Pothos plants may seem easy to care for, but like other plants, they also need proper attention and care to keep them healthy.

Failing to keep watch of your Pothos plants may expose them to a risk of developing holes due to pest and disease infestation.  Even with the recently added global green pothos plants, your plant will not be spared if you don’t provide proper care.

Holes in Pothos leaves are less common but can happen. Therefore, it’s practical for plant parents to practice proper care and save the Pothos from attacks by pests and fungal diseases. 

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