Holes in Succulent Leaves: Causes and Treatments

Holes in Succulent Leaves

What causes the holes in succulent leaves? I got this question from my readers. If you have the same problem, then this post is for you. Read more.

Back when I was started as a succulent grower, I also had the same experience. I bought a beautiful succulent and place it in the garden. A few days later, I noticed those small and medium-sized holes in the leaves.

I was not sure what was going on. I saw nothing that could have made those holes. Certainly not my dogs (dogs could not do those round holes).

I worried so much about my plants. So I researched the internet hoping to find a solution to this weird problem. Unfortunately, I found no answer.

So, what made those holes in succulent leaves?

I found the answers throughout the years of growing succulents. The common causes of holes in succulent leaves are birds, insects, and overwatering.

If you are new to growing succulents, you are completely clueless. But along the way, after gaining more and more experience in growing these wonderful plants, you’ll see what causes the problem.

Causes of Holes in Succulent Leaves

Succulents are super easy to grow. As long as you give them their basic needs, they can grow and thrive without you caring for them.

However, succulents also have many weaknesses that could detriment them. They are prone to environmental threats.

That said, there are many factors that could cause the holes. The following are some of them:

1. Insects

Insects are some of the threats of succulents. These tiny creatures can turn your plant really bad. 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. You can do this by using simple and free steps.

Related Article: Aphids on Succulents: Best Homemade Solutions

Step 1: Isolate the Affected Succulent Plants

Insects can spread fast if the affected plant is placed in the middle of the garden. So my recommendation is that as you notice the insects ruining your plant, transfer the affected plant away from other plants.

Step 2: Cut the Affected Areas of the Plant

Now that the infected plants are isolated, you can proceed to the treatment phase. The first thing you can do is to cut 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 kill the tiny insects in the leaves.

Step 3: Spray Pesticides

This is a hard approach. There are available chemicals for succulents you can buy and apply to your affected plants. However, I really suggest that you read the guidelines of the product and follow them. Remember that pesticides may harm plants and even pets around.

Related Article: Fungicide for Succulents: The Best Brands

2. Overwatering

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 at that time wilted. While others developed small holes in their leaves.

I learned it from a hard experience. Overwatering can cause holes in the succulent leaves. If the insects are not the responsible ones, then there is a good chance that those holes are the result of overwatering.

This commonly happens during the cold season. Succulents do not need much water, especially in winter. The soil tends to remain moist for a considerable period of time.

If this is the case, you can reduce the amount of water and the watering frequency. I suggest that you 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 dry.

But you can only do this if you are using the fast-draining soil. Compact soil will retain so much water which will in turn cause root rot.

Related Article: 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. They are some of the plants that are easy to grow and demand virtually no care.

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 mentioned, there are many reasons as to why holes in succulent leaves develop. The most common ones are overwatering and insects. But of course, depending on where you live, there could be even more reasons.

These problems should not discourage you from having more succulent plants. There are easy steps you can do to keep your plants safe from any of these.

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 quick appropriate action. This will help you save your succulents.

I hope this helps. Thank you for reading.

Related Questions

Should I cut off leaves with holes?

As I have said above, 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. In addition, in doing so also helps the succulents develop new leaves that will improve the plants’ appearance.

How do you get rid of bugs on plant leaves?

You can use a solution of water with alcohol or dishwashing detergent. This the cheapest way to kill the bugs on the leaves of the plants. But in severe cases, you can use fungicide for succulents.


I am a university teacher by profession, researcher, blogger, and gardener.

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