Calathea is a beautiful plant loved for its beautiful foliage and different varieties. However, spotting holes in their beautiful foliage can feel depressing. I’ve been there, so I know. But, if you find out the exact cause, you can save your Calathea before it’s too late.
Generally, holes in Calathea leaves are due to pest infestation, sunburn, and poor water quality. Use Neem oil to get rid of the pests. If your Calathea is sunburned, prune the affected leaves and move them to a shadier spot. Always use water that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals in them.
If the leaves on your Calathea have holes and you don’t know what to do about them, this article is for you. We will discuss the possible issues and their fixes, so keep reading.
Table Of Contents
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Why does my Calathea have holes in leaves?
Holes in houseplant leaves are a common issue, which doesn’t just affect Calathea but many others.
Holes are signs of some kind of problem that the plant is experiencing.
Calathea is a sensitive plant that can develop holes if living under the wrong conditions.
Let’s get into the details.
1. Pest infestations
The most common reason behind holes in Calathea leaves is pest infestation.
Some common pests that feed on houseplants are spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, thrips, scales, etc.
Pests attack your houseplants under unsuitable conditions like low light and overwatering.
Pests feed on Calathea leaves, and in the process, they create holes in them.
Other signs of pest infestation include weak plants, droopy leaves, etc.
If you don’t treat this on time, pests can take over your Calathea and, eventually, kill it.
If you’re wondering which pest has infested your Calathea, check these:
These resemble tiny spiders and attack plants that are underwatered and don’t have enough humidity around them.
These bugs prefer dry conditions, so if your Calathea is living in such a condition, it will attract them.
Spider mites will feed on the sap of your Calathea and rob it of all its nutrition and strength.
The pests might be too tiny to notice with bare eyes.
The easiest way to identify them is by noticing web-like structures around the plant.
Another common bug that might have infested your Calathea is mealybugs.
These will attack your Calathea if you’ve overwatered it because these bugs love moisture.
You will notice white cotton-like structures on the leaves, stems, and underleaves of your Calathea.
They, too, feed on your plant’s sap and weaken it eventually.
Aphids are tiny bugs that feed on the sap of plants and tear the leaves, which is why you notice the holes.
These are light green and barely visible with bare eyes.
Aphids reproduce fast and can take over your Calathea in no time, so you should act fast if you spot them.
Some other signs of aphid infestation are yellow leaves, curling leaves, etc.
These tiny bugs feed on the sap, the flowers, and the leaves of your Calathea.
You will usually find them in groups, and if you think they have infested your Calathea, shake the plant, and you will find them coming out of the plant.
Scales are black and round-shaped bugs that feed on the leaves of the Calathea plant and create holes.
It can be hard to get rid of them because they have hard shells.
Some other bugs, like caterpillars, snails, and slugs, can also cause holes in your Calathea leaves.
Although these are mostly found on outdoor plants, they can also enter indoor spaces through windows or doors.
Since you can spot these easily, you can remove them from the plant and ensure they cannot return.
How to get rid of pests on Calathea?
If your Calathea is getting weak day by day and the leaves keep developing holes in them, here’s how you can get rid of them:
- Isolate your Calathea and keep it away from other houseplants, so the pests don’t spread.
- If you can see the pests, wear gloves and handpick them. However, this might not be possible for most pests as they are too tiny.
- Take it to the sink, bathroom, or outside if the conditions are favorable, and give it a good shower at least 2-3 times. This should help you get rid of quite a few pests.
- Prune the leaves with holes, as they will not become healthy again.
- Next, prepare a Neem oil solution and spray it on your Calathea, especially the infested parts. Continue for 14 days. Neem oil is widely used to remove pests as it is organic and doesn’t harm the plant.
- You can also use rubbing alcohol. Take a cotton ball, insert it in rubbing alcohol, and apply it on areas that are pest infested.
- If the pests don’t seem to go away even after this, use pesticides to get rid of them. Be careful when using pesticides, as too much can harm the plant.
- If the pest infestation is severe and has taken over the entire plant, you might need to repot it or propagate it to give it a new chance.
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Another reason why you see holes in Calathea leaves is sunburn.
Calathea is an ideal houseplant because it doesn’t prefer direct sunlight.
It will thrive in indirect light, which is what most homes have.
However, if you’ve placed your Calathea in a spot where it receives direct sunlight, it will get sunburned.
The sun’s direct rays will hit the foliage and scorch them, eventually leading to holes.
Mostly the upper leaves will get affected in case of sunburn, while the lower leaves or those not exposed to direct sunlight remain unharmed.
If you think your Calathea leaves have holes due to sunburn, follow these:
- Get rid of the leaves with holes.
- Move the Calathea away from its current spot.
- Find a spot where the plant will not get exposed to direct sunlight but will have enough indirect light.
3. Poor water quality
Calathea is a sensitive plant; if it gets poor-quality water, you will see the signs on its leaves.
Calathea will not react well to regular tap water, as most tap water contains harmful chemicals and minerals.
If you’ve been using regular tap water on your Calathea, the holes on its leaves might be an issue caused due to that.
- First, remove the affected leaves.
- Next, stop using regular tap water to water your Calathea.
- Use filtered water or rainwater to water your plant.
- Avoid using regular tap water while misting your Calathea.
If you are unsure of the water quality, send it for a test to determine if it has chemicals or minerals.
4. Leaf spot disease
The leaf spot disease is a common fungal disease that can cause the Calathea leaves to develop spots.
This fungus thrives when you overwater your plants and place them in a spot with no or less ventilation.
So, if you’ve been overwatering your Calathea or not keeping it in a spot lacking airflow, it might have leaf spot disease.
You will initially notice discoloration and spots on the leaves, eventually turning into holes.
If this is the case:
- Isolate the Calathea to prevent the spread of the disease to other plants.
- Prune the affected leaves.
- Move the Calathea to a spot that has proper airflow and ventilation. And make sure it’s getting enough light.
- Now you need to use an effective fungicide to eliminate the disease. You can use an organic fungicide by mixing 2 tsp baking soda, 4 cups of water, and 1 drop of dishwashing soap. Spray this solution on the affected areas. If this doesn’t work, opt for a commercial fungicide.
5. Wrong fertilization
How you fertilize your Calathea can determine the health of the plant.
Sometimes, the holes you see on your Calathea leaves might be because of incorrect fertilization techniques or using the wrong ratio.
- A lack of micronutrients like iron or macronutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium can cause holes in Calathea leaves.
- Sprinkling fertilizer on the leaves can burn them and cause holes.
- Excess fertilization can alter the soil’s pH level and cause spots and holes in the leaves.
If you doubt any of these, check if you use the correct fertilizer ratio.
Calathea prefers 3-1-2 NPK fertilizer; if you haven’t been using that, you should switch to the right ratio.
Also, avoid applying the fertilizer on the leaves of your Calathea.
And fertilize during the growing season of the plant.
Avoid fertilizing your Calathea in winter as it can cause overfertilization and, thus, holes in leaves.
6. Low humidity
Calathea plants prefer at least 50% humidity levels; some varieties even prefer 60% or more.
But, if your Calathea hasn’t received enough humidity, it will show signs of problems.
One such sign is low humidity.
Lack of humidity affects the young leaves, and you eventually notice holes in them.
If you think your Calathea is not receiving enough humidity, you can increase the humidity levels around it by following any of these:
- The best thing to do is get a humidifier and place it near your Calathea.
- You can mist the plant to increase the humidity around it.
- Keeping it near an aquarium will also give it a humidity boost.
- Grouping it with other humidity-loving plants will also help increase the humidity.
- You can prepare a pebble tray by taking a tray, adding pebbles and water to it, and placing the Calathea pot over it. As the water evaporates from the tray, it will increase the humidity.
Finding holes in your Calathea leaves can destroy the look and the health of the plant. But instead of panicking, you should try to understand if there’s something that you are doing wrong.
I have explained the possible reasons behind holes in Calathea leaves and how you can fix them. Going through them will help you understand what to do with your Calathea.
Also read: Why Do Indoor Plants Get Holes In Leaves?
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Should I cut damaged Calathea leaves?
You should get rid of the damaged Calathea leaves or those with holes.
This is because the leaves with holes will never heal or return to normal.
So, it is best to cut them to save the plant’s energy and not let it go to waste.
You can use a pruner or sharp, sterilized scissors to cut the damaged Calathea leaves.
What to spray on plants with holes in leaves?
As I mentioned earlier, you can spray a Neem oil solution on plants with holes in leaves in case the reason is pest infestation.
You can also use Neem oil as a preventive measure to stop this from happening again.
But, in case of a fungal disease, you should spray a fungicide on the affected areas.
Source: NCBI, University of Florida, Wikipedia, Growing Indoor Plants with Success, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, University of California, Missouri Botanical Garden.
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