Holes In Dracaena Leaves (Causes & Treatments)

This article contains everything you need to know about holes in dracaena leaves . It includes the causes, early signs and scientifically proven treatments.

Holes In Dracaena Leaves (Causes & Treatments)

Dracaenas (a.k.a corn plants) are one of the most celebrated ornamental plants among houseplant enthusiasts and gardeners.

Even if you follow an expert-recommended care routine, sometimes your plant may show some distress in the form of holes in the leaves. As a responsible houseplant owner, it is your responsibility to find out what is causing this issue and how you can prevent it in the future.

This article guides you through everything related to holes in dracaena leaves including causes and steps for effective prevention based on scientific references.

Why Are There Holes In Dracaena Leaves?

Pests eating the leaves are the number one cause of holes in dracaena leaves. The most commonly seen pest that is responsible for the holes is Liriyomyza Melanogaster. Other plant-eating pests and insects like mealybugs, caterpillars, slugs, snails, etc can also cause holes in dracaena leaves.

Different pests need different pesticides. So, for proper removal of them, you first need to identify the exact bug that is causing holes in your dracaena leaves.

Even though different pests can cause holes in your dracaena leaves, it is possible to find the exact pest.

According to Corrys, one of the pioneer brands that sells pesticides, by analyzing the hole sizes and position you can easily tell which pest is making holes in your dracaena leaves.

Refer to the below table for a breakdown of different pests and the characteristics of the holes they create.

PestHole CharacteristicsPosition
SlugsLarge, Irregular ShapeTowards center
SnailsLarge, Irregular ShapeTowards center
CaterpillarsLarge & SmallStarts at edge
Flea BeetlesSmall shot holesEverywhere
Japanese BeetlesSkeleton likeEverywhere

Other than pest infestation, some other general problems like low low humidity, mechanical damage, excessive fertilization, etc can also cause holes in dracaena leaves.

How To Treat Holes In Dracaena Leaves?

Treating your dracaena plant having leaves with holes starts by identifying the real cause. If it’s due to pest infestation, then you should use the right pesticide. For other causes, you need to create an environment that does not promote the cause in the future.

Here are the step-by-step guidelines to fix your affected dracaena plant.

Step 1: Quarantine the plant

Whenever you see a problem with any of your plants, the first thing you should do is to move your affected plant away from other plants.

As we already mentioned, holes in your dracaena leaves may be due to either pests or fungus. And both of them have the ability to transfer to the nearest plants easily.

By quarantining the affected dracaena plant early on, you can reduce the risk of infection in other plants.

Step 2: Identify the real cause

Once your affected dracaena plant is quarantined, then it’s time to have a proper analysis.

Properly examine the underside of the leaves and nearby stems to see if you can spot any bugs. Other than Liriyomyza Melanogaster, all other pests can be identified in the daytime.

To identify Liriyomyza Melanogaster, you have to check your plant at night time with the help of a flashlight.

If you don’t see any pest or fungus, then you have to check for other causes like manual damage, low humidity, etc.

Step 3: Select a treatment

Based on the identified cause, you need to formulate a plan to fix the problem.

If the holes are caused by pests and bugs, then you can use oils containing antibacterial and antifungal properties. Thes oils include peppermint oil, neem oil, etc. If oils are not available, you can try cleaning the leaves with mild soap water.

If the infestation does not reduce even after multiple rounds of cleaning with oils and soap water, then you need to apply chemical pesticides having ingredients like glyphosate, boric acid, DDT, malathion, etc. 

Step 4: Prune affected leaves

Once the leaves are damaged, there is no possible way to undo the damage.

So, if the infection is very severe and more than half of the leaves are damaged, then it is advised to prune them off so that your dracaena plant will focus on new growth than wasting energy on damaged leaves.

Holes In Dracaena Leaves – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Having holes in dracaena leaves is very common and there is a lot of confusion around that problem. In this section, we will answer some of the frequently asked questions.

What is eating the leaves of my dracaena?

The most commonly seen bug that eats your dracaena leaves is Liriyomyza Melanogaster, a pest that lives in the soil. Other sapsucking bugs like mealybugs, slugs, snails, caterpillars, etc also love to eat dracaena leaves.

How do I get rid of mealybugs in dracaena?

If the infestation is minor, then you can easily get rid of mealybugs by splashing water with a hose. On the other hand, if the infestation is severe then you may have to look for natural or chemical pesticides containing neem oil or similar materials.

Is leaf spot a symptom of upcoming holes in dracaena leaves?

Yes, having brown leaf spots is a symptom of upcoming holes in dracaena leaves. These leaf spots occur when the pest infestation is in the intermediate stage. If no action is taken to remove these miniature bugs, then it will lead to holes in the near future.

Should you cut off dracaena leaves with holes?

If a dracaena leaf is damaged, then there is no way you can revive the leaves to their previous state. So, if more than half of the leaves have holes, then it is advised to cut them off so that the plant won’t waste its energy on damaged leaves.

If a lot of leaves are damaged, you can prune vigorously. But always ensure that at least 25% of the leaves are left for proper photosynthesis.

Wrapping Up

If you are a houseplant owner, then seeing holes in your beloved plants is not a happy sight. But, before panicking just take a close look at the plant and find the real cause that is causing the holes in your dracaena leaves.

When the cause is identified, all you have to do is just follow the scientifically proven method to remove the corresponding pests and prevent future damage. 


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. The first introduction of Xyleborus affinis (Coleoptera: Scolytidae), Folia Entomologica Hungarica Via Researchgate.
  2. Liriyomyza Melanogaster Profile, University Of Florida.
  3. Plant Pests, University Of Florida.
  4. What’s Eating My Plants, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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