Holes in Succulent Leaves: Causes and Treatments [natural remedies]

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Back in the day when I was just starting my journey of a succulent grower, I had the same unpleasant experience. I bought a beautiful succulent and placed it in the garden. A few days later, I noticed those small and medium-sized holes in the leaves. As a newbie to succulent growing, I was not sure what was going on. I saw nothing that could have made those holes. Certainly not my dogs. Dogs can do a lot of stuff with your plants, but we cannot blame them for these small holes.

Honestly speaking, I was worried about my plants. So I researched the internet hoping to find a solution to the problem. Unfortunately, I found no satisfying answer.  Just years later, after seeing this problem many times and trying different remedies, I came to a conclusion that birds, insects, and over-watering are the most common causes of these holes. In this post I will explain the problem more in detail, as well as suggest you some good remedies, to make sure your plants remain beautiful and healthy.

Two main causes of holes in succulent leaves and how to address each one

Succulents are super easy to grow in general. As long as you give them their basic needs, they can grow and thrive without any special care. In this age, when everyone is busy and rushing somewhere, such plants logically gain popularity.

However, succulents also have their weaknesses, and are prone to environmental threats. Now let me explain the two main threats that can cause holes in their leaves, which can eventually have even fatal consequences for your beloved plants.

Insects can eat the entire plant

The tiny creatures can really turn your plant (or even your entire garden) upside-down. In fact, in some instances, they could eat the whole plant. Insects not only make holes in the succulent leaves, but they could also cause many health issues in the plant. If this is the case, you should make your succulents free from insects. I have my three steps guide on how to do it, and we will look at it right now.

* May also interest you:Aphids on Succulents: Best Homemade Solutions

Step 1: Isolate the affected plants

Insects can spread fast if an affected plant is placed in the middle of the garden. As soon as you notice the insects ruining one of your plants, you should move it away from other plants. Basically you should quarantine your succulent, just as you’d quarantine a sick animal or a sick person in a case of a transmittable disease.

Step 2: Cut the Affected Areas of the Plant

Now that the infected plants are isolated, you can proceed to the treatment. The first thing you should do is cutting the affected areas of the leaves using a clean knife or pruners. Make sure that the cutting tools you use are clean and free from other elements that could also harm the plant. This is the quickest way to get rid of those insects. Dip or soak the cut parts in the alcohol. But I prefer burning them, to make sure you kill the tiny insects in the leaves that eye cannot see. If you are  a Buddhist, however, or simply do not like to kill any living creatures, you can simply take those infected leaves with insects out of your garden, to a safe distance (50 meters would do in most cases)

Step 3: If previous remedies do not work, use pesticides

In my opinion, you should avoid using chemicals, but sometimes, when other remedies fail, it is your only option, unless you want to see your entire garden ruined. You can find many products, some are more ecological than others. If I should pick one only, this one will be my choice (* please not it is a sponsored link, if you decide to get the spray I may earn a small commission–a few cents, at no extra cost to you; such links allow me to continue this blog, so thank you 🙂).

Always remember to read the guidelines of the product and follow them. You should also remember that most pesticides may harm plants and even pets around, so opt for more ecological choices, and use them in moderation….

* May also interest you: Fungicide for Succulents: The Best Brands

Over-watering can also lead to holes in the leaves of your succulents

Back when I was just started growing succulents, I had no clue that giving too much water to these plants is harmful. As a result, some of my succulents wilted, and others developed small holes in their leaves. I learned it from a hard experience… Over-watering can cause holes in the succulent leaves, no doubt about it. If the insects are not to blame, then there is a good chance that you simply watered your plants too much.

This phenomenon happens especially during the cold season. Succulents do not need much water, especially in winter. But some people do not know this and do not change their watering schedule. As you can imagine, it can have very bad consequences on the plants…

There is a simple remedy to this one, however. Just reduce the amount of water and the watering frequency. I suggest you to apply the soak and dry method. This strategy involves soaking the soil and then allow the excess water to drain through the drainage hole of the pot. Only water the plants when the soil is completely dry. Also, make sure you use the right soil for your succulents, that means one with a good drainage and consistency. This alone will reduce the chances of over-watering your plants heavily… If you aren’t sure about the right choice, check my favorite soil on Amazon–trusted by thousands of growers in the US..


* May also interest you: Can I Use Orchid Potting Mix for Succulents?

Final Thoughts

Succulents are native to semi-desert areas. This is the reason why they are tolerant to drought and can survive in neglect. However, this does not mean that they are safe from diseases. In fact, they are prone to several problems including the holes in their leaves.

As you have learned in the article, the most common causes are overwatering and insects. Both of them can be addressed quite simply, and in most cases you do not need to spend money, at least unless the problem is serious and you need to buy some spray.  These problems should not discourage you from having more succulent plants.

All you need to do is to pay close attention to your succulents’ needs. If you notice problems such as the development of holes in their leaves, take appropriate action quickly, and save your plants. Happy growing!



Q: Should I cut off leaves with holes?

A: Cutting the leaves with holes is the first step you can do. This is one of the best ways to control the disease or the spread of the affected area. What’s more, it also helps the succulents develop new leaves that will improve the plants’ appearance.

Q: How do you get rid of bugs on plant leaves?

A: You can use a solution of water with alcohol or dish-washing detergent. This the cheapest way to kill the bugs on the leaves of the plants. In severe cases, you opt for fungicides for succulents.