If you’re looking to add some vibrancy and color to your garden, porch, or patio, one of the best and easiest ways to do it is to start growing begonias.
These plants are popular worldwide for their wonderful display of colors, including white, pink, orange, red, and yellow, and the summer-long bloom.
Plus, even though they originate from tropical and subtropical areas, begonias are very adaptable to various growing conditions and don’t require much effort when it comes to caring for them.
Still, like most of the other visually interesting and flowering plants, begonias are often the target of various insects and other pests.
The gardeners and homeowners growing this wonderful plant will often notice holes in begonia leaves which are one of the most common issues you may have.
Below, I’ll explain what’s causing these holes and detail the best ways to deal with this kind of problem.
Why Are There Holes in Begonia Leaves?
Even though they may occasionally appear for other reasons, the primary cause of holes in begonia leaves are various pests.
They love to feast on begonias and various pest species enjoy chewing on the entire begonia plant, leaves included.
When that happens, the most obvious sign that your begonia is infested by pests is the appearance of holes in the leaves.
Below is a short overview of the most common culprits for begonia leaves holes.
Begonia attracts a variety of pests, including slugs and snails, caterpillars, thrips, scales, mealybugs, and spider mites.
Most of these threats are quiet during the day and only come out to feed during the night.
This is why you’ll rarely catch them in the act and the only sign of their activity are the holes in the begonia levels you’ll find in the morning.
So it’s important to regularly check the plant and look for any damage. With some smaller pests, you’ll even need a magnifying glass.
Some will leave a more noticeable trace, such as slimy trails left by snails.
Note that if you keep the begonia outdoors, the most likely culprits are snails and caterpillars, while indoor plants are mostly attacked by smaller pests, such as aphids or spider mites.
What to Do?
The most efficient way to get rid of pests is by using pesticides.
If you want to avoid chemicals, natural pesticides, such as neem oil, mint oil, or rubbing alcohol, will probably do just fine and help you get rid of the problem.
However, if the infestation is already severely spread, you will likely have to use chemical pesticides, specifically created for the pest type that’s attacking your begonia.
You can easily get advice on which one to use at your local garden store.
Of course, the best thing to do is to prevent the infestation from even happening.
Regularly observing your plants, making sure their environment is tidy, and cleaning the leaves from time to time will help you do just that.
The earlier you notice the infestation, the easier it will be to deal with.
So, regularly monitor your plants and react to the first signs of problems.
Leaf Spot and Blight
Begonias are also fairly vulnerable to a couple of plant diseases and they also may be the reason for sporadic holes in their leaves.
The most common diseases begonia can suffer from are of a bacterial nature, such as leaf spot and blight.
Most of the time, the issue will be the leaf spot caused by bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris pv. Begoniae.
The early sign of this disease is the declaration of the leaves, which start getting yellow and brown spots. As the leaf spot develops, you will start noticing that those discolored spots are turning into holes.
What to Do?
Once the leaves have been infected by these diseases there’s really not much you can do.
So, it’s best to just stop the further spreading of the diseases and cut off the leaves that have holes in them or have changed color.
Also, make sure to isolate the infected from the rest of your plants, so the diseases don’t impact them too.
In addition, most of these diseases are caused by the water you use for your plants.
To prevent the infection, use only distilled water, and make sure to water only around the base of the plant, so the leaves don’t stay wet.
Another potential cause of holes in the begonia leaves is the improper use of fertilizer.
In general, fertilizer is very helpful, especially if you want your begonias to produce flowers every season.
However, adding more fertilizer doesn’t mean that this will happen sooner or that begonias will grow faster and bloom more often.
In fact, too much fertilizer can be very damaging to the plant as roots and stems can’t handle the extra nutrients and work to evenly spread the energy across the plant.
Due to this energy imbalance, young and fresh leaves unroll before the right time and may have holes in them and discoloration issues.
Furthermore, while fertilizing, some of the fertilizer falls onto the leaf surface, it may “burn” it and create holes.
What to Do?
First of all, always make sure that you use the fertilizer in the exact way as noted in the instruction.
Plus, don’t use it too often, once every couple of months is more than enough.
If you already did the damage and overfed your begonia, then it’s best to transplant the entire plant in a new pot with fresh soil.
For begonia owners, holes in the leaves can be very frustrating, as they ruin the impeccable visual appearance of this plant.
However, the bad looks are the least of your problems in this case, as leaf holes commonly point to other issues.
Most likely you’re dealing with pest infestation, and your begonia is being attacked by snails, spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, or some of the other pests.
In some cases, holes may be a sign of a disease or an indication that you’re adding too much fertilizer.
Whatever the reason, it’s essential that you regularly monitor your begonia, so you can discover the issues early and react to prevent more serious problems.