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Do you have a fiddle leaf fig tree and are wondering why there are holes in the leaves? 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is a common issue with these plants, and there are a few things that you can do to fix it. 

In this article, we will discuss what causes holes in fiddle leaf fig leaves – and, importantly, how to prevent them.

fiddle leaf fig with holes in its leaves

Why does my fiddle leaf have holes in the leaves?

Here are some of the most common causes of holes in fiddle leaf fig leaves:

1. Low humidity

Humidity is helpful for fiddle leaf plants because it helps prevent the leaves from drying out. When the air is too dry, it can cause the leaves to develop holes. This happens with young leaves developing in dry environments, and they can’t heal over time once the damage is done.

When a new fiddle leaf unfurls or unravels and stretches up for sunlight, dry conditions can cause it to get caught on the bud it’s emerging from and tear. This can be anything from a small scratch on the leaf to a full-on gash. Once the leaf is damaged, it will be more susceptible to further damage.

Causes of humidity

There are many reasons why the air might be dry, but some of the most common include:

  • Indoor heating
  • Air conditioning
  • Living in arid conditions
  • Placing the plant in direct sunlight
  • Underwatering

All of these can suck the moisture out of the air, leaving your fiddle leaf fig thirsty.

2. Nutrient deficiency

Another reason why your fiddle fig leaf may have holes in it is that it is experiencing a nutrient deficiency. This is most commonly seen with a lack of nitrogen, but can also happen with a lack of other nutrients like phosphorus and potassium.

When a plant doesn’t have enough nutrients, it will start to experience leaf problems like holes, spots, or curling. These deficiencies are often the result of poor soil quality or incorrect watering. It’s not common, but it may happen over time if you use poor soil and never fertilize your plant.

holes in fiddle leaf fig leaves

3. Root rot

Root rot in a fiddle leaf fig happens when the roots of a plant are allowed to sit in water for too long. This can happen if the pot doesn’t have proper drainage or if you’re watering the plant too often. It can also happen if your fiddle leaf fig is planted in too large of a pot.

Root rot is a serious problem because it prevents the plant from taking up nutrients and water, which can lead to leaf problems like holes, wilted leaves, and eventual plant death. It can also attract pests as well as bacterial or fungal colonies.

4. A tear in the leaves

A physical tear in the leaves can also cause holes. This usually happens when the plant is moved or brushed against something, causing the leaf to tear. Once the leaf is damaged, it is more susceptible to further damage and holes.

A stem can also be damaged, causing deformities and holes in the leaves. This damage can’t be reversed and the plant will likely need to be pruned in order to redirect energy to healthy leaves and stems.

5. Pests

Pest infestations are one of the main causes of leaf damage on fiddle leaf figs. Pests can cause leaf holes in a number of ways. They may suck the sap out of the leaves, causing them to dry out and eventually die. They may also chew on the leaves, causing physical damage that can lead to holes.

Pests can cause serious damage to your plant, and they often go unnoticed until the plant is already infested. You’ll need to learn how to identify these pests so that you can treat them quickly.

holes in the leaves of a fiddle leaf fig
Source: u/kluvspups

What is eating holes in my fiddle leaf fig?

The most common fiddle leaf fig pests that cause holes include:

These pests create holes in your fiddle leaves in a few different ways. They can suck the sap out of your plant, causing the leaves to dry out and eventually create holes or tears. They can also chew on the leaves, causing physical damage that can lead to holes.

Pests may also lay eggs inside the leaves, which can hatch and cause even more damage. The larvae of some pests, like leaf miners, will eat their way out of the leaf, causing holes.

You’ll need to learn how to identify these pests so that you can treat them quickly. If you don’t act right away, not only will this mean that your plan will die, but it could also spread to other plants in your home.

How to fix what’s causing holes in my fiddle leaf fig leaves?

It can be hard to fix your fiddle leaves if they already have holes in them, so your best bet is to stop more from forming. Prune the leaves that are already damaged and follow the following tips to stop further damage and return the plant to its original health:

1. Isolate the plant

If your fiddle leaf fig has holes in it because of a pest infestation, the best way to start reversing the damage is by isolating it from other plants. This is important because it can help stop the spread of pests to other plants in your home.

You should also quarantine any new plants that you bring into your home so that you can inspect them for pests before adding them to your collection. Isolating the plant will also give you a chance to focus on its individual needs and create a treatment plan specifically for it.

fiddle leaf fig standing alone

2. Use neem oil

One of the best natural ways to remove a variety of pests from your plants is by using neem oil – I prefer PetraTools Pure Neem Oil (check the current price here). This oil is derived from the neem tree and it’s been used for centuries to treat plant pests.

To use neem oil, you’ll need to mix it with water and then spray it on your plant. Be sure to thoroughly cover the leaves and stems, as well as the surrounding area. This will help to kill any pests that are currently on the plant and it will also help to prevent new ones from coming.

3. Use soap

Another easy solution for getting rid of pests is to use soap. You can create a soap spray by mixing water and dish soap in a ratio of one-to-one. Once you’ve mixed the two ingredients, you can spray it on your plant.

This method works best on soft-bodied pests, like aphids and mealybugs. The soap will suffocate them and kill them quickly. Be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves, as this is where these pests tend to hide. You should also be sure to rinse the soap off of your plant after a few hours so that it doesn’t damage the leaves.

4. Use insecticide

If you’re looking for a more heavy-duty solution, you can use an insecticide. There are a variety of different insecticides that you can use, but you’ll need to be sure to choose one that is specifically designed for indoor plants.

My top pick is Natria Organic Insecticidal Soap – you can check the latest price here.

You should also be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging carefully so that you don’t damage your plant. In most cases, you’ll need to mix the insecticide with water and then spray it on the plant.

someone spraying insecticide on a fiddle leaf fig to prevent holes in its leaves

5. Add humidity to the room

If your fiddle leaf fig has holes in its leaves, it could be due to dryness. To stop unfurling leaves from catching and tearing, try to add some extra humidity to the room. You can do this by placing a humidifier in the room or by putting your plant on a pebble tray full of water.

I’ve used this AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier for years now and really recommend it.

You can also mist your plant with water regularly to help keep the leaves hydrated and prevent them from drying out and developing holes. However this solution isn’t long-term since as soon as the droplets of water dry, the leaves will go back to being dry.

6. Trim roots and aerate your soil for better drainage

If root rot is the cause of holes in your fiddle leaf fig, take the plant out of the soil. Check over the roots and look for ones that are black or mushy. These will need to be trimmed away so that the plant can start to heal.

After you’ve trimmed away the damaged roots, you’ll need to aerate your soil and improve the drainage. You can do this by adding some perlite, rocks, or broken pieces of a clay pot to the mix. This will help to improve the drainage and aeration so that the roots can get the oxygen they need without being submerged in water.

7. Replace the soil

If your fiddle leaf fig is lacking nutrients, the easiest way to solve this problem is by replacing the soil. You can do this by removing the plant from its current pot and then adding fresh, nutrient-rich soil.

The best soil for fiddle leaf figs is one that’s well draining. You can also make your own potting mix by adding things like compost, perlite, organic soil, and peat moss. Be sure to mix everything together well so that the roots can get access to all of the nutrients they need.

someone repotting a fiddle leaf fig

8. Fertilize your plant

Another way to provide your plant with the nutrients it needs is by fertilizing your fiddle leaf fig. You can use a liquid fertilizer or you can add slow-release pellets to the soil.

If you choose to use a liquid fertilizer, you’ll need to be sure to dilute it before applying it to your plant. You don’t want to damage the roots or shock the plant. There are specific fiddle leaf fig fertilizers that you can buy, or you can use a general-purpose fertilizer that is designed for tropical plants.

How to prevent fiddle leaf fig holes in leaves?

The best way to prevent fiddle leaf fig holes is to be proactive and take care of your plant. Here are some of the best ways to keep your plant happy, healthy, and hole-free:

1. Water your plant properly

Water your fiddle leaf fig when the top inch of soil is dry. Stick your finger in the soil to check. Water slowly and deeply, until water runs out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Never let your fiddle leaf fig sit in water, as this can lead to root rot. If the plant is sitting in a saucer, empty it out after 30 minutes. Water your plant with room temperature water to avoid shocking the roots.

2. Create a humid environment

Fiddle leaf figs like humid conditions, so try to create a more humid environment in your home. You can do this by placing the plant in a bathroom or kitchen, using a humidifier, or grouping plants together.

By creating a more humid environment, you can help prevent the leaves from drying out and eventually developing holes.

3. Check regularly for pests

Pests are one of the main causes of leaf damage on fiddle leaf figs. Regularly check your plant for pests, and treat them quickly if you find any.

Some signs of pests on your leaves include webs, discoloration, holes, and stippling. If you see any of these signs, check the undersides of the leaves for pests. You can also use a magnifying glass to get a better look.

fiddle leaf fig

4. Fertilize your plant on a regular schedule

Fertilizing your fiddle leaf fig on a regular schedule will help ensure that it gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Look for a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, as this will help promote growth.

Follow the directions on the fertilizer package, and be sure to fertilize during the growing season (spring and summer). During dormant periods, you won’t have to worry about fertilizing as much. Make sure not to overfertilize your plant, as this can cause leaf burn.

5. Repot your plant correctly

You should repot your fiddle leaf fig every two to three years, or when the roots start to become pot-bound. When repotting, be sure to use a well-draining potting mix and a pot that is only slightly larger than the current one.

If you use a pot that is much larger than the last, you risk root rot and leaf drop. Be sure to water your plant well after repotting, as the roots will need time to adjust to the new potting mix.

6. Keep your plant out of reach of children and pets

As mentioned as one of the causes of holes in fiddle leaf fig leaves, pets and children can cause damage to the leaves. If you have pets or children in your home, keep your plant out of reach to prevent any accidental damage.

(Not to mention that fiddle leaf figs are toxic to cats, dogs, other animals and kids that take a bite out of them!)

dog sniffing a fiddle leaf fig

You can also place your plant in a room that is not frequently used to help keep it safe. Supervise your children and pets around the plant, and teach them not to pull on or damage the leaves.

Find out more: Are Fiddle Leaf Figs Toxic to Dogs?

7. Add drainage holes to your pot

If you’re using a pot without drainage holes, add some before you plant your fiddle leaf fig. This will help ensure that the roots don’t sit in water and prevent root rot.

You can either drill holes yourself or buy a pot that already has them. Be sure to use a well-draining potting mix to help with drainage as well to prevent root rot and eventual holes in your fiddle fig leaves.

8. Shake your plant or fan the leaves

Fiddle leaf figs like to be in humid environments, but they also like air circulation. Every so often, give your plant a good shake or use a fan to circulate the air around it.

In fact, shaking your fiddle leaf fig is a good way to strengthen it. This, in turn, will make your plant more resilient to pests, diseases, and tears.

Should I cut off fiddle leaf fig leaves with holes?

It may be a good idea to prune any fiddle leaf fig leaves that have holes in them. This will help prevent the spread of pests and disease, and it will also help the plant to focus its energy on new growth.

To prune your fiddle leaf fig, use sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears. Cut the leaves at the base of the stem, being careful not to damage the stem. After pruning, you can dispose of the leaves in the trash.

Clean well-calculated cuts will ensure that your plant can heal properly and continue to grow healthy new leaves.

You should also prune leaves that are yellowing, browning or have been damaged by pests. These leaves can be a sign of disease, and they can also attract pests. Pruning these leaves will help your plant to stay healthy and pest-free.

It’s best to prune your fiddle leaf fig in the early spring before new growth begins. This will give the plant time to heal and focus its energy on new growth. Summer is also a good time to prune, as the plant will be actively growing, but try to avoid pruning in the fall and winter months if possible.

How often do fiddle leaf figs grow new leaves?

In the high growing season, you can expect your fiddle leaf fig to grow a new leaf every month or so. The plant will likely slow down its growth in the winter months. This growth isn’t always even, so you may see several new leaves in a short period of time, followed by a long stretch with no new growth.

Growing new healthy leaves is a great way to minimize holes in leaves and eventually prune all of the damaged ones.

You can encourage new fiddle leaf fig leaves by fertilizing regularly, repotting when necessary, and keeping the plant in a humid environment with good air circulation.

Light is also crucial when it comes to encouraging new leaves on your fiddle leaf fig, so be sure to place your plant in a bright spot. These plants can handle direct sunlight for a few hours a day, but they will also do well in bright indirect light.

With proper care, your fiddle leaf fig will continue to grow healthy new leaves and eventually crowd out any leaves with holes that are present.