Why Does My Prayer Plant Have Holes in the Leaves? (+ SOLUTIONS)

Seeing holes in your prayer plants’ leaves can be stressful, especially when you don’t know what is causing your plant to look like Swiss cheese! Fortunately, we have put together a troubleshooting guide to help you identify the cause with some solutions for reviving your Prayer Plant back to health.

The common causes of holes in prayer plant leaves are pests eating the leaves, diseases like leaf spot, or unfavorable conditions where your prayer plant is located. The holes are symptoms of a larger problem, and without prompt treatment, can lead to a weakened plant, or even fatal.

Holes in Prayer Plant Leaves

Yes – we know it sounds dramatic, however our urgency is not unwarranted. Pests and disease can severely weaken a prayer plant beyond repair. So, here at the Garden Bench Top, we have put together an easy to navigate troubleshooting guide to help resuscitate your ailing prayer plant.

So, grab a coffee because we have some problem-solving to do!

What is Creating Holes in my Prayer Plant?

Generally speaking, Prayer Plants (also known as Maranta Plants) are easy to care and low fuss indoor plants. So when holes begin to show in their leaves, this is a signal that there is something genuinely wrong with your plant.

If you see holes in prayer plant leaves, we recommend reading through the below common causes and implementing the solutions as soon as possible.


Even though many indoor plant enthusiasts get them confused, Calathea and Maranta are not the same. They are both classified as part of the arrowroot family, however the Maranta plants are genuine prayer plants.

Why are there holes in my prayer plants leaves

Prayer Plant Pests That Can Cause Holes in Leaves

One of the first causes that come to mind when we see holes appearing on our prayer plants’ leaves is pests.

Pests love to loiter and take refuge in indoor plants, because they provide the perfect environment for them to feed and live in safety.

Unfortunately for us, this means pest infestations can result, often weakening our prayer plants, and causing holes to develop in the leaves. Here is a list of common prayer plant pests you should be on the look for.

Spider Mites

Spider mites can be a frustrating pest to battle because they are hard to see, and can cause significant damage to your prayer plant. They damage your plants by penetrating the surface of the prayer plants’ leaves, and feeding on the sap within the plant cells. This results in holes developing from dying plant cells, that are unsightly and weaken your plant.

As we mentioned, spider mites are hard to see. The average size is only 0.5 mm long (or sometimes smaller). Generally, you will only see them if you are actively searching for them with a magnifying glass. Otherwise, they happily go undetected until you see the resulting holes from their feeding.

One giveaway, though, that your prayer plant has a spider mites infestation is the presence of fine cobwebs on the underside of the leaves, or in the crevices of the stems. If you spot any of these, it is time to jump into action.

Spider Mite infestation on plant
Spider Mite infestation on plant

How To Treat For Spider Mites

Because spider mites are so hard to see, the most effective treatment is to spray the entire plant with an organic pesticide (like Neem Oil). When spraying your prayer plant with the pesticide, you will want to make sure you spray the undersides of the leaves, as well as around the nodes of the plant. Spider mites love to hide in crevices, away from prying eyes.


Mealybugs are another pest that can cause a lot of frustration for indoor plant parents. They don’t necessarily attack the leaves of your prayer plant, however they may be indirectly causing the holes in your leaves. Like spider mites, they feed off your prayer plant’s sap to the point that it becomes weak and susceptible to diseases.

Mealy bugs are easy to spot, because it will look like someone has sprinkled cotton wool on your prayer plant leaves and stems.

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 plant, so their impact can be devastating to a weak prayer plant.

mealybug infestation on plant
mealybug infestation on plant

How to Treat for Mealybugs

Unfortunately, treating a plant infested with mealy bugs is a bit of a manual process. You need to dab each mealy bug with a cotton bud that has been dipped in rubbing alcohol. It will kill them within a few minutes, and they should fall off by themselves.If not, gently brush them off the leaves and stems. We then recommend spraying your entire prayer plant with an organic pesticide like Neem Oil to ensure any remaining mealy bugs don’t have an opportunity to recolonize your plant.


Thrips love to crawl and hang out on or under the leaves of your plant.

The prayer plants’ leaves are their primary feeding ground, where they will dig holes into your leaves to suck out the nutrients and sap of your plant. The damage they cause to the leaves leads to leaf cell necrosis (death of a plant cell resulting from damage), that then develops into holes in prayer plant leaves.

You can identify thrips by the damage they create on your plants’ leaves. Along with holes, the leaves become lifeless and dull looking, with a silvery sheen beginning to show on your leaves where the thrips have caused extensive damage.

thrips infestation on plant
thrips infestation on plant

How to Treat for Thrips

To get rid of thrips, take your prayer plant outside and give it a good pressurized spray with water. This will dislodge any thrips that are living on the leaves and stems. We recommend using a medium setting that allows for a soft wash spray that has enough pressure to blast any thrips off your plant, but not damage any of the leaves. Make sure to check at the nodes for any thrips that may be hiding in the crevices. Repeat this process each week.

If you don’t mind using a bit of insecticide on your plants, any commercial brand at your local nursery or supermarket will work instantly. Again, we recommend spraying the insecticide outside.

Unfavorable Environment Conditions Causing Holes In Leaves

Another reason why your prayer plant may be developing holes in its leaves is due to changes in the surrounding environment.

Sudden changes to the conditions can cause your prayer plants to throw a tantrum of sorts. Usually, the short term signs are leaves beginning to droop, and the plant looking sad. However, if the conditions don’t improve, it can lead to discoloration of the leaves, including holes developing.

Let’s take a look at the causes of the holes in your prayer plant leaves.

Sun Spot Burns

The ideal light setting for a prayer plant is bright, indirect sunlight for 6-8 hours of the day, like most other indoor tropical plants. They will be able to tolerate short periods of dappled direct sunlight, if it is exposed in the early morning or late evening.

However, long periods of direct sunlight (especially hot midday and afternoon sun) will lead to your prayer plant’s leaves dehydrating. The intense heat and loss of moisture leads to crispy leaves that turn brown and holes begin to develop – a plant’s version of sunburn and sun spot burns.

To remedy the problem, we recommend cutting off the burnt leaves and moving your prayer plant to a more light friendly location. Like we mentioned earlier, a position with indirect light exposure is ideal.

If you cannot find a good position, or you are limited in space (like in an apartment), try installing sheer curtains or blinds on the window to filter out the intense direct sunlight.

Low Humidity

One of the most difficult demands of the prayer plant are its humidity requirements. Prayer plants require a lot of humidity.

Prayer plants thrive in humid environments.

The humidity levels help the leaves of the prayer plant 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 the swelling of plant cells. This can lead to ruptures, and holes in your plants’ leaves. A lack of humidity will eventually weaken your prayer plant, 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 plant 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.

Just make sure there is enough air flow between the foliage, otherwise you could end up with fungal diseases developing.

Final Thoughts on Holes in Prayer Plant Leaves

Discovering holes in your prayer plants’ leaves is never a nice surprise. It can cause indoor plant parents’ unnecessary stress and anxiety.

We have developed an easy-to-use troubleshooting guide to help inexperienced indoor plant owners navigate through these new challenges.

By diagnosing the cause, whether it is pests, disease or environmental, you can then implement the appropriate solutions to nurse your prayer plant back to full health.