Why Are There Holes In Begonia Leaves? (4 + Reasons, Signs & Treatments)

It is very common to see holes in begonia leaves. Check out this article to learn the causes, signs, treatments and preventive measures.

Holes In Begonia Leaves

If you are wondering what are those small holes that are randomly seen in one or some of the leaves, then this article is for you.

In this article, we will be going deep into everything you need to know about holes in begonia leaves. It includes causes, early signs, treatments, and preventive measures all based on scientific research.

Causes Of Holes In Begonia Leaves

Holes in begonia leaves are primarily caused due to pests eating the leaves. The commonly seen pests in begonia plants are snails, caterpillars, slugs, spider mites, thrips, and mealybugs. Apart from these pests, bacterial infection, mistakes in care, etc can also cause holes in begonia leaves.

Let’s have a detailed overview of different causes.

1. Pests Eating

Pests eating is the number one reason for holes in begonia leaves.

Depending on the placement of your begonia plant, these pests include a lot of different types ranging from small bugs to beetles and caterpillars. 

Based on a study published in FKIP University of Mataram Journals, caterpillars and snails are the two pests that are responsible for the holes in begonia leaves in their test environment.

Caterpillars and snails will damage mostly the begonias kept outside. In the indoor setting, it is not the case the damage is mostly done by leaf-mining small pests like mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, liriomyza melanogaster, etc.

Early Signs – The best way to check whether your begonia is affected by pests or not is by manually inspecting the plant using a magnifying glass. Different pests leave different marks on leaves.

Treatment – The best way to treat pests is by cleaning the affected leaves using organic or chemical pesticides. If the infestation is small, natural pesticides like neem oil, mint oil, etc are more than enough.

But if the infection is very severe, then you should use pest-specific pesticides.

Prevention – The only possible way to prevent pests from eating your begonia leaves is to keep the pests away from your plant. Periodically monitoring the plant for pests, keeping the plant environment clean and tidy, etc are a few things you should follow religiously.

2. Bacterial Leaf Spot & Blight

According to PennState Extension, Bacterial leaf spot disease in begonia plants is caused by a special bacteria Xanthomonas campestris pv. Begoniae.

Many other bacterias and fungi are known to create havoc in begonia leaves, but most of the time, the holes are caused by these bacteria.

In their beginning stage of infestation, the leaves start to turn yellow and then brown. As time progress, the brown spots will turn into holes.

Early Signs – Yellow or brown spots scattered across the leaves.

Treatment – It is not possible to reverse already damaged leaves. So, isolating the plant and pruning off the leaves is the best way to keep the infection away from other plants.

Prevention – In the majority of the time, bacterial leaf spots and other similar diseases are caused by the water you feed to your plant. To prevent these diseases, you need to make sure that the leaves are not wet while watering.

Also, filtered water free of bacteria and viruses will prevent these kinds of diseases in the future.

3. Fertilizer Issues

Fertilizing your begonia is necessary if you want the plant to bloom every season.

But, often beginner houseplant owners think giving too much fertilizer will make the plant grow faster. It is true to an extent, but the faster growth rate comes at its risks.

According to a scientific study published in Elsevier ScienceDirect, when a plant grows too fast due to overfeeding, the roots and stems can not handle the extra energy. This causes an energy imbalance, as a result, the new leaves will unroll quickly even before it is ready to unroll resulting in holes and color damage.

The same study also mentions that if the fertilizer falls on the begonia leaves, the high nitrogen content in the fertilizer will burn the spot resulting in holes.

Early Signs – Holes in new begonia leaves, yellow burn spots in leaves, and white salt buildup in the soil.

Treatment – If you’ve been overfeeding your plant for quite some time, then it is better to report the begonia plant in a new pot with fresh potting soil. After repotting, don’t fertilize your begonia for at least a couple of months.

Prevention – The ideal way to prevent holes in begonia leaves due to fertilization issues is to fertilize the plant only when it needs. 

The general rule to follow is too fertile once a monument during the growing season and once every two or three months during the off-season. 

While fertilizing make sure that the fertilizer is not staying in the leaves for a long time.

4. Accidental Damage & Improper Care

You might be blaming every other pest and climatic condition for the holes in your begonia leaves. But, sit back and think for a second!

Maybe you might have to blame yourself for the damage.

If you are someone who keeps on moving the plant from one spot to other, there is a high possibility that the holes are due to some accidental damage. 

32% of the houseplant owners admitted that they had made damage to their plant leaves multiple times while moving around. So, next time you are moving your plant, take proper care.

Another cause of accidental damage is your pets. Maybe they’ve played with the beautiful foliage of begonia plants. Their paws are sharper than what is needed to make a hole in begonia leaf.

Holes In Begonia Leaves – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you are a beginner, then fixing your begonia leaves with holes might lead to multiple questions. 

And, in this section, we will try to answer some of the most commonly asked questions on the internet related to this topic so that you don’t have to search again.

What is eating my begonia leaves?

The commonly seen pests like snails and caterpillars are the ones that are eating most of the begonias in the outdoor space. On the other hand, indoor begonias are often eaten by small leaf miner flies, mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, etc.

Should you cut off begonia leaves with holes?

It is not possible to reverse an already damaged leaf. If the damage is due to bacterial or viral infection, then you should cut off the leaves on priority. On the other hand, if the holes are due to other pests like spider mites, snails, etc, then you may o may not cut off the leaves.

Are begonias prone to pests?

Even though begonias are considered to be hardy plants, sometimes they are targeted by pests. It is always advised to periodically monitor all of your plants including begonia for pests and other infections so that you can take action if needed.

Does homemade insecticidal soap work for leaves with holes?

If the infection is in the initial stage, then homemade insecticidal soaps work for begonia leaves with holes. But, for severe infections, you need proper laboratory-made chemical insecticidal solutions.

Wrapping Up

If you are a begonia plant owner, then you might have seen holes in their beautiful foliage many times.

Next time you see any new leaves with holes, don’t scratch your head. Instead, check for the above-mentioned signs to find out the real cause.


To back up the information we provide in our articles, the Plantials team only uses high-quality sources published in peer-reviewed university or scientific research journals.

  1. Identification Of Pests & Diseases On Begonia Plants, FKIP University of Mataram Journals.
  2. Begonia Diseases, Pennsylvania State University Extension.
  3. Plant Responses To Overfertilization, Elsevier ScienceDirect.

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