Holes In Begonia Leaves: 6 Important Causes & Solutions

Holes in begonia leaves are much more common than you would think, and it can sometimes be a mystery trying to figure out the cause.

In many cases, pests or diseases are to blame, but other times it can be due to intense direct sunlight scorching the leaves or excessive fertilizer causing burning.

There are other factors to consider, and in this guide, we’ll explore six common reasons for holes in begonia leaves with solutions for each case.

6 Causes Of Holes In Begonia Leaves

Let’s jump into the list of the most common causes of holes in begonia leaves.

1. Pests

One of the most common reasons for holes in your begonia leaves is the presence of pests. Insects such as mealybugs, spider mites, slugs, and snails commonly find on begonias and feed on the leaves, creating holes.

With pest infestations, it’s usually pretty easy to tell that pests are the problem. You’ll likely notice the holes at first, but under close examination, there will be other signs of pests.

Some pests, like slugs and snails, are visible to the eye, while others are much smaller but leave residue on the leaves (mealybugs).

We’ll cover pest management later in this article.

2. Disease

Diseases can also be responsible for holes in begonia leaves.

Common diseases that affect begonias include powdery mildew, leaf spot, and root rot. Leaf spot diseases are the most common culprit for creating holes in the leaves, as the spots usually die quickly and create holes in the aftermath.

Disease management typically involves using fungicides; we’ll explore this topic later in this guide.

3. Sun Scorch

Too much exposure to direct sunlight can lead to sun scorch, a condition where parts of the leaves dry out quickly due to the sunlight, creating irregular spots with brown centers and yellow halos.

Over time, sun-scorched spots can collapse in the middle, leaving a hole behind.

Begonias thrive in bright, indirect sunlight, so keep this in mind when choosing the location for your plant.

Too much direct and intense sunlight will scorch the leaves and create many scorched spots that may turn into holes. To combat this, prune affected leaves and change the location of your begonia.

4. Other Plants/Falling Debris

Sometimes, holes in begonia leaves can result from nearby plants or falling debris, such as small sticks or leaves from other plants. These external factors can puncture or damage the tender foliage of your begonias, causing holes to appear.

This can be especially common if you plant your begonia close to a pointed plant like a snake plant, so keep this in mind.

Ensure enough space between your begonia plants to prevent overcrowding and damage from nearby plants.

5. Fertilizer Burn

Applying too much fertilizer or using a highly concentrated fertilizer can cause fertilizer burn, resulting in brown spots or holes in your begonia leaves.

To prevent this issue, follow the recommended application rates for fertilizer and consider using a slow-release fertilizer to feed your plants.

6. Physical Contact/Handling

Rough handling or excessive physical contact with your begonia leaves can lead to damage, including holes or tearing. This is quite common if you purchase a begonia and notice that it already has holes in the leaves.

When handling or transplanting your begonias, be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging the delicate leaves.

Identifying And Managing Pests

Pests can be tricky to deal with.

Here are some top tips for spotting and removing them quickly.

Signs Look Out For

With most pests, you’ll notice the damage that they leave behind before you spot the pests themselves.

Here are some telltale signs:

  • Spider mites leave a fine webbing behind, usually seen on the underside of leaves.
  • Mealybugs can often be seen with the naked eye – look out for white cottony masses on the underside of leaves.
  • Slugs and snails should be visible to the naked eye.

Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s time to eliminate them immediately.

Control Strategies

Small infestations can be handled by washing your begonia with water once daily over a week or two, taking care not to overwater the soil.

For larger infestations, you will need to apply insecticidal soap.

Begonias can be sensitive to these soaps, so follow the guidelines for proper application protocol.

Preventive Measures

It’s much easier to prevent pests in the first place.

The key is to create an environment that does not allow pests to thrive:

  • Check soil and plants regularly: Inspect your begonias and their planted soil for signs of pests.
  • Care for your plants properly: Provide the correct amount of light, water, and fertilizer to avoid energy imbalances and stress, making begonias more susceptible to pests. High moisture will also attract pests, so avoid misting your plant.
  • Cleanliness: Keep your garden weed-free and remove any dead debris, which can attract pests and create breeding grounds for them.

Disease Management

Holes in begonia leaves due to disease can be difficult to deal with.

The key is to treat the problem as quickly as possible to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the plant.

Are Begonias Prone To Disease?

Begonias can be prone to diseases such as bacterial leaf spot, blight, and powdery mildew.

With proper care, diseases should not be a common issue (or an issue at all).

Disease Treatment

Most common begonia diseases follow the same treatment pattern:

  • Diseased parts of the plant are removed, including both leaves and roots.
  • Repot in fresh soil, as the soil can contain fungi.
  • Treat the rest of the plant with a fungicide.

There are a lot of different diseases, though, so we recommend this guide for a full breakdown of each and the specific type of treatments recommended for each.

Prevention Strategies

To keep your begonias healthy and free from diseases, follow these tips:

  • Watering: Avoid overwatering your begonias and ensure proper drainage by using pots or containers with drainage holes. Overwatered conditions are breeding grounds for diseases like root rot.
  • Humidity: Maintain optimal humidity levels for your begonias, especially if they are houseplants. The plant can quickly spread disease if there is lots of moisture in the plant.
  • Pruning: Regularly prune your begonias to remove dead or diseased leaves and improve airflow around the plant.

Should Leaves With Holes Be Pruned?

There are some cases where the leaves with holes should absolutely be pruned.

These are when the leaves are affected by either pests or diseases. Diseased leaves will quickly spread the disease to other parts of the plant, and pests can quickly spread from leaf to leaf.

If pests or disease or not to blame, it isn’t an urgent requirement to prune the leaves.

There are arguments for removing these leaves, such as pests being attracted to dying leaves, but if the leaves are healthy besides the holes (this is usually the case with holes caused by physical contact), you don’t need to rush to remove them.

In Summary

There are a lot of different causes of holes in begonia leaves.

If pests or diseases are causing the holes, it’s important to act quickly to give your begonia the best chance of recovery.

Other factors like sun scorch or holes due to other plants are not as serious, but it’s still worth addressing the underlying issue to maintain your plant’s health.

Check out some of our other begonia articles below:

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About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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