Why are their Holes in My Philodendron Leaves? (Causes and Solutions)

Discovering holes in your philodendron’s leaves should trigger some red flags for indoor plant owners. Holes generally mean your plant is potentially sick or under attack from disease or pests, and fast action is required in order to save your philodendron.

Holes in philodendron leaves can be the result of pests feeding on your leaves’ sap, fungal diseases affecting the plants’ internal harmony, inappropriate environmental conditions such as overexposure to sunlight or low humidity, or even over fertilization. With so many variables, it can be hard to pinpoint which one is causing your holes in your philodendron. We’ll discuss each in more detail below, so stay tuned.

Holes in Philodendron Leaves

Welcome to the latest feature discussion at the Garden Bench Top. Today we’ll be troubleshooting the cause of your holes in your beautiful philodendron’s leaves. We’ll not only identify the cause, but also provide solutions for treating the issues in your ailing philodendron houseplant.

So, go grab a coffee and let’s get ready to solve the case of your mysterious holes.

Holes in Philodendron Leaves – Possible Causes

While there are a few varieties of philodendrons that naturally have holey leaves, like the Tree Philodendron (philodendron bipinnatifidum), the majority of indoor philodendrons that we are accustomed to seeing have full beautiful heart-shaped leaves.

So when you see holes beginning to develop, we recommend troubleshooting the possible causes we detail (below each cause) and implementing remedies quick smart.

Causes of holes in philodendron leaves

Diseases That Cause Holes in Philodendron Leaves

Diseases are a common problem for indoor plant enthusiasts. Especially fungal diseases that develop as a result of poor care and maintenance routines, such as overwatering or poor air circulation and overcrowding.

The common types of diseases that can cause holes to develop in your philodendron’s leaves are leaf spot disease and Anthracnose.

Both of these diseases are fungal diseases that begin with discolored spots appearing on your philodendron’s leaves caused by plant cell necrosis (damaged plant cells). Eventually, the damaged cells spread, increasing in area with the dead cells disintegrating, leaving holes in your leaves.

Without proper intervention, the disease will spread from leaf to leaf, ultimately infecting your entire philodendron, leading to its demise.

Fortunately, we have some remedies for you to treat your diseased houseplant.

How to Treat Diseases

Once you have established the cause of the holes in your philodendron leaves is a fungal infection, the solution is straightforward.

  1. With a sterilized pair of garden scissors (or secateurs), remove any infected leaves, stems and other parts of your philodendron. Be sure to remove any dead leaves on the soil as well. This will help prevent any spores from reinfecting new leaves.
  2. Spray fungicide over the remaining leaves to kill the fungus and prevent reinfection. Feel free to use any commercially tested fungicide sprays available online or at your local nursery. If you don’t have fungicide, you can use a hydrogen peroxide solution (mix one part bleach with 15 parts water).
  3. Over the next few weeks, keep a close eye on your philodendron. Take special care to not overwater your plant and receive plenty of airflow.
  4. If you see any spots forming on other leaves, it means you haven’t eliminated the disease, and it is beginning the cycle again. In cases like these, repeat the first few steps of the process, until you can no longer see any more signs of the disease.

Pest infestation on Causing Holes in Leaves

Pest holes in philodendron leaves
credit: reddit

Another common cause for holes beginning to appear in your philodendron leaves are pests, like spider mites, aphids and mealybugs.

The one thing all these insects have in common (besides being annoying to indoor plant enthusiasts) is that they all feed on the nutrient rich sap of your philodendron’s leaves.

All these pests have the apparatus for penetrating the thick outer layer of the leaves, allowing them to enjoy liquid meals.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these pests.

MealyBugs Causing Holes in Philodendron Leaves?

Mealybugs won’t eat your leaves, per se. But they will deplete your philodendron plant’s sap to the point that it becomes weak and susceptible to diseases, like the ones we discussed above.

Mealy bugs are easy to spot on your philodendron, because it will look like someone has sprinkled cotton wool in places around your philodendron.

They usually like to stay close together in colonies, and can leave a sticky substance called honeydew behind as they feed. The honeydew can also encourage sooty mold fungus to develop and infect your philodendron (as if hole leaves wasn’t enough to deal with!)

Aphids Causing Holes in Philodendron Leaves?

Aphids belong to a group of pests that love to penetrate a leaf’s skin to feed on the sap in the plant cells. As the hordes of aphids repeatedly penetrate the leaf’s skin, it develops leave cell necrosis, which is essentially damaged leaf cells dying, eventually developing into holes in your philodendron’s leaves.

Aphids are easy to see on your philodendron because your leaves will appear furry, with hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of aphids collecting on your leaves and feeding on the sap. They prefer new growth to older parts of your philodendron, and can sometimes be sneaky and huddle on the undersides of the leaves.

Spider mites Causing Holes in Philodendron Leaves?

credit: Unsplash

Like aphids, spider mites feed by penetrating the surface of the philodendron’s leaves, and feeding on the sap within the plant cells. This results in holes left from dying plant cells, that are unsightly and a weakened philodendron plant.

Unlike aphids, spider mites are a bit harder to see. Being only 0.5 mm long (and smaller), you will need to be actually searching for them with a magnifying glass to find them on your plant.

One giveaway that your philodendron has a spider mites infestation is the presence of fine cobwebs on the underside of the leaves, or in the crevices of the stems.

How to Remove Pests from Indoor Plants?

Treating your philodendron for pests is also easy, once you know the type of pest you are dealing with.

  • Mealybugs – the best and quickest way to deal with mealy bugs is to dab each one a cotton bud that has been dipped in rubbing alcohol. They should fall off shortly after being dabbed, at which point you should spray your entire philodendron with an organic pesticide like Neem Oil.
  • Aphids – If you see aphids on your philodendron, take it outside and give it a good spray of water from a pressurized hose. We suggest using a medium pressure that will dislodge any aphids, but not damage or tear your philodendron leaves. Make sure you get every last aphid, otherwise even if one aphid remains, they will recolonize, and you’ll need to repeat the process.
  • Spider Mites – the most effective treatment is to spray the entire plant with an organic pesticide like the mealybugs. The reason is they are extremely hard to see, and it is likely you will miss a few.

Environmental Factors Causing Holes in Philodendron Leaves

Other than pests and diseases, a few environmental factors can cause your philodendron leaves to form holes.

Philodendron in pot with lighting conditions

Overexposure to Direct Sunlight

Even though philodendrons are tropical plants, they naturally grow close to the forest floor, and are therefore shaded by the thick canopies above.

As such, they prefer medium to bright positions that receive indirect sunlight.

If they are exposed to prolonged periods of sunlight, their leaves will dehydrate and be susceptible to leaf burn. Affected leaves will first become discolored with yellow and brown markings. If left unattended, the brown markings eventually form holes, and result in holey philodendron leaves.

If you notice your philodendron suffering from leaf burn, we suggest moving it away from any direct sunlight that it may be exposed to. If you have limited space in your home, try putting up some sheer curtains on your windows to filter the light.

Low Humidity

Another condition that can cause holes in philodendron leaves is a lack of humidity around your plants.

Many tropical plants (like the philodendron) require a minimum amount of moisture in the air in order for their processes to function properly. The humidity levels help the philodendron’s leaves to transpire, without which, they won’t be able to release the necessary water from their leaves. This can lead to other issues, such as disease and weakening of the philodendron, causing its inevitable demise.

If you suspect a lack of humidity is causing the holes in your leaves, there are a few solutions. You can try placing your philodendron on a humidity tray. Alternatively, there are other natural ways of increasing humidity around your plants, such as grouping them together to increase the amount of moisture in the air.

Philodendron in pot with low humidity conditions

Over Fertilization

The last condition that can lead to holes in your philodendron’s leaves is the over application of fertilization.

Even though feeding your indoor plants is necessary, too much of a good thing can also tip the scales and actually upset your philodendrons.

When there is a build of fertilizer in a houseplant’s soil, it becomes toxic with the high salt concentrations, affecting the pH levels. These imbalances can cause brown spots to develop on the leaves, eventually leading to holes and unsightly leaves.

Another incidental cause of holes on leaves is when fertilizer lands on the leaves while we feed our philodendrons. The concentrated form of fertilizer will cause a burning effect on the leaves, once again resulting in holes.

To avoid holey leaves caused by fertilizer, be careful when you feed your plants. Be sure to only spread fertilizer on your soil, not the philodendron themselves. Also, try to flush your soil with filtered water once a season. This means to soak your philodendron’s soil completely and ensure all the built-up salts are washed out with the excess water from the drainage holes.

Final Thoughts on Holes In Philodendron Leaves

There are many factors that can cause your philodendron to develop holes in its leaves.

Pests and disease are the most common reasons for holey philodendron leaves. However, it can also be as a result from environmental factors scuh as too much light, low humidity and a build up of nutrients in the soil.

Whatever the cause, you will need to troubleshoot the issues and quickly resolve them to prevent further damage from happening to your previous philodendron.

Good luck and happy gardening!