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Why Do Pothos Have Holes? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 26th, 2022 at 12:43 pm

Growing ornamentals is a delightful task, albeit, with few challenges. A common challenge is the appearance of holes on your ornamentals like pothos.

As a plant enthusiast, you may like to know why this occurs and what you can do. Let’s discuss that then.

Holes in your pothos are caused by simple factors ranging from pest infestation, leaf spot or shot pole diseases, extreme temperature conditions, even overwatering. Some of these causes are so sublime that you may not see any symptoms before the holes appear. Still, holes in pothos are not a welcome development and may result in the death of the plant.

Why Does my Pothos Plant have Holes?

The major cause of holes on your pothos plant could be a result of an insect infestation. That is, it is being eaten by a liriomyza melanogaster, a leaf-eating miner fly that sucks browses and eats the leaves of the plant.

It could also be because you have been overwatering it, and thus leaf spot diseases have evolved. Now, let us look through these causes individually.

1. Pest Invasion

Pothos is a succulent plant. For this reason, it is a treat for piercing and sucking insects like Liriomyza and mealybugs, which have become dominant pests of pothos. Whenever you notice holes on your pothos plants, these are the first culprits for which you should look.

The activities of these pests easily go unnoticed until the consequences become visible, mainly because of their microscopic nature and their stealth mode of operation.

It would interest you to know that Liriomyza only feeds on these plants at night. The holes appear because this pest pierces the leaves and mine into them when they feed. As a result, they constitute the main cause of holes in pothos.

2. Overwatering

Although plants need water to thrive, it is as important to give room for the roots of plants to be oxygenated. Excess water in the soil where pothos is planted could result in the rotting of roots.

When roots rot, the plant is unable to take up nutrients to its leaves. The absence of these essential nutrients leaves the leaves vulnerable, and thus holes could begin to evolve on them.

3. Leaf Spot Disease or Shot Hole Disease

These diseases are also the reason why your pothos leaves may have holes in them. Plants have an automated system or self-defense mechanism of killing or drying out a part of themselves that the disease has infected to prevent spreading.

This process usually starts with little holes that look like droplets of water, then gradually, they grow bigger. The entire leaf spot disease or shot hole disease is another primary reason for holes on the pothos plant.

What Happens if my Pothos Plant has Holes?

Since holes in your pothos plants are usually a symptom of a bigger problem or disease of the plant, leaving them unchecked could result in the death of your plant.

However, this is no swift occurrence as other effects such as rotting of leaves, drying off and discoloration slowly take effect during this period. Let’s quickly look through the visible effect of having holes on your pothos.

Yellowing and browning of leaves: This takes place almost immediately after the appearance of holes on the pothos plant, especially, if the holes result from malnutrition or overwatering. The holes usually have brownish and yellow structures surrounding them, which makes them more visible.

Rotting of leaves: This is another early effect of having holes on your pothos plants. With holes in a pothos plant, nutrient circulation in the leaves is highly restricted, and this causes some parts or whole leaves to rot.

Drying off: This happens in your pothos plant begins partly then wholly when holes begin to appear on the leaves. When this affects surfaces, you can be assured that disease and not just pests have infected the plant.

Death: Even though this is inevitable, it can result when the presence of holes on your pothos plants become prolonged. As we have seen, these holes prevent smooth intravenous transportation in the plant, and it causes a huge decline in plant activity.

If left unchecked, your pothos plant could die but not because of the holes rather because of the disease responsible for the holes on the leaves of pothos.

How Do I Prevent my Pothos Plant from having Holes?

You can prevent pothos from having holes by using horticultural sprays, applying alcohol or neem oil. Generally, staying alert and closely monitoring your pothos plant will enable you to prevent holes from sprouting on your pothos plant.

In staying alert, you will properly monitor the moisture content of your soil and the appearance of pests on your plant.

True, a stitch in time saves nine, but why anticipate a tear when you can prevent it? Below is a list of recommendations that will help you prevent your pothos plant from sprouting holes on its leaves.

1. Use of Neem Oil

Neem oil is an organic repellent for pests of many plants, including pothos. It is a natural herbicide with no negative effects on plants or soils, but it repels insect pests.

The only downside of this oil is that it requires that the insect come into direct contact with it to be effective. For this reason, you may have to reapply on the plant frequently.

2. Application of Alcohol

You can apply alcohol on pothos leaves using cotton balls. It is a very effective solution to pest infestation.

The odor repels insects, and even those who can withstand this odor cannot stay or feed on the leaves, which becomes slippery. In using alcohol, you have to balance the quantity applied as well as its frequency.

3. Use of Horticultural Oil Sprays

This option is the most effective, efficient, and more quick method of eradicating pests. Horticultural oil sprays are safe to use on plants and serve as a one-time remedy for pests and fungi. They have the most lasting control effects.

4. Avoid Overwatering

Pothos requires a reasonable amount of water, no doubt. Still, the quantity of water provided should be proportional to temperature and climatic consideration.

Overwatering easily occurs when the temperature is not considered. In cool temperatures, pothos seldom utilize soil water. Thus, frequent watering would only result in overwater and the appearance of holes on the leaves in the long run.

5. Appropriate Growing Conditions

Susceptibility in plants like pothos is highly encouraged when plants fail to meet their growing condition. Another good way to prevent holes in the leaves of your pothos is by maintaining its proper growing condition.

Pothos thrive in slightly acidic soil of pH between 6.5 and 6.1 and a very humid environment. The temperature requirement is 60-80, ̊F, and these conditions prevent holes in pothos.


Pothos plants develop holes due to insect infestation, leaf spot disease, harsh temperature, etc. They are, however, very easy to grow and not so difficult to administer care.

It is not uncommon that pothos may develop some diseases from fungi infection or plant mining pests, but these holes can be well reversed and even prevented.

You shouldn’t worry too much about these holes if they appear on your plant. They do not signal the end of your plant since you can reverse this. More importantly, it is easy to prevent this anomaly, as we have just discussed.


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