Among the common houseplants, snake plants happen to be extremely popular. Not only do these long-leafed plants look appealing, but they also detoxify the indoor air in a variety of ways.
Another reason behind the plant’s popularity is its hardiness. Snake plants thrive well in a variety of conditions and under little care.
However, like almost any other plant, they are prone to certain problems too. One of these is the appearance of holes on the leaves of your snake plant.
Considering that the key attraction of a snake plant is its leaves, you certainly wouldn’t want them to start developing holes. Besides looking unsightly, these holes are usually signs of problems that could potentially destroy the whole leaf and even the plant.
Why does your snake plant have holes in leaves?
There are several potential reasons why your snake plants may have developed holes. Check out some of the most common perils that might cause these holes.
Snails are an extremely common culprit behind holes appearing on snake plant leaves. Especially if your pot stays on the balcony or near a window, snails could easily sneak in and make their way into the pot.
Snails feed on indoor garden plants, eating away the leaves. While a snail usually wouldn’t kill your snake plant or eat up an entire leaf, it could still cause significant damage.
Although snake plants do not attract a lot of bugs, leaf-mining bugs do attack these plants sometimes. These bugs on the leaves, gradually eating them away.
They create tiny holes, which start expanding slowly as the bugs continue to feed. Eventually, they would consume the entire leaf.
These leaf-mining bugs are a serious problem, especially because they are hard to detect. Even with a microscope, you may have trouble finding these bugs due to their tiny sizes.
Overwatering is harmful to most houseplants, and the same applies to these. Excessive water intake results in brown spots in the leaves, as the leaf cells sustain damage.
Over time, the damage grows more severe and the brown patches turn into holes. However, you can alter the quantity of water as well as the scheduling to fix this issue.
What do you do when snake plants have holes in their leaves?
Once your snake plant develops holes, you would essentially want to fix the problem at the earliest, before it grows. Unfortunately, the leaves cannot repair the holes once they appear.
The holes would remain for the rest of its lifetime, and so would the unsightly looks.
All you can do is prune the plant, removing the damaged leaves. Other than this, here are a few steps that you may take, depending on the cause behind the holes:
Remove the snails
In case snails are the reason behind the holes, removing them should naturally be your first move. In case you feel uneasy about touching the snail, you may put on gardening gloves to protect your hands.
Gently lift the snails off the soil and release them outdoors. Another effective solution is to spray vinegar on the snails. In most cases, it would make them leave the pot by themselves.
Use insecticides for bugs
If leaf-mining bugs are the culprits behind the damage, you should consider using insecticides. However, do make sure to pick a natural insecticide that is non-toxic to pets and humans, as you would be using it domestically.
In this case, getting rid of the infested leaves is crucial too.
By cutting off these leaves, you would be throwing away the majority of the bugs. Moreover, it would also prevent bugs from spreading across the plant even if they survive the insecticide.
Adjust the watering schedule
When overwatering turns out to be the reason for the holes, you simply have to adjust the amount of water that you provide the plant with. If you find the soil to be too wet or waterlogged, place the pot under the sun to let it dry up.
Water your snake plant only once in a week or two, letting the soil dry in between. You might also want to remember that overwatering can cause the roots to rot.
How can you deter snails and bugs from damaging your snake plant?
Once snails or bugs have made holes in the leaves of your snake plant, you should be careful in case they return even after you remove them. Failing to do so, you might soon find your snake plant under attack again. You could try these steps to protect your snake plant.
Spread broken eggshells over the soil
Eggshells can be a great defense against snails, thanks to their hard texture and sharp edges. Snails have soft bodies, due to which it is painful and uncomfortable for them to move over eggshells.
They would leave your pot alone and head elsewhere. Adding eggshells to the soil is also great for fertilizing it, as these shells are rich in calcium. As these shells dissolve into the soil, they would supply the plants with the necessary nutrients.
Leave your snake plant under sunlight
As moisture is a key attraction that draws bugs to houseplants, leaving the pot under sunlight would help. The sunlight would evaporate the moisture, thereby helping to prevent creating a habitat for bugs.
However, do keep in mind that long exposure to direct sunlight can be detrimental to snake plants. Ideally, you should place the plant under the sun for a few hours a day before moving it back to its regular spot.
Sprinkle salt on the pot edges
A good way to create a barrier that would keep out snails is to sprinkle salt around the edges of the pot. In most cases, the snails would avoid crossing the salt barrier and would leave your plant alone.
In this context, please note that salty soil is detrimental to the growth of your plant. Make sure not to add any salt to the soil while sprinkling it over the pot edges.
Do not keep too many snake plants in a pot
Most individuals prefer to put a bunch of snake plants in a single pot. While this does look better, it also puts the plants at greater risk. Firstly, too many plants would result in high moisture levels, creating an environment ideal for attracting bugs and snails.
Secondly, in case of bugs infest one of your plants, they can quickly spread to other snake plants in the same pot. It would be wiser to spread them across multiple pots instead.
Clean the plant from time to time
Mites and bugs tend to reside in dirty places. Keeping your snake plants clean would help to keep these pests away. Even if you keep the plants indoors, dust and grime can deposit over time.
Use a damp cloth to wipe your snake plant once every few weeks. This would not only keep away the pests but also make your snake plant look fresher.
How do you know if there are bugs on your snake plant?
Firstly, the chances of finding bugs on your snake plant are relatively low as these plants do not attract a lot of insects in the first place. When bugs do attack the plant, it might be hard to find them depending on their size.
The leaf meal bugs, for instance, are extremely tiny and difficult to detect. In case you haven’t overwatered your plant and there are no snails around, bugs are likely the reason behind the holes.
If you are unsure, you could use natural products like neem oil spray or vinegar to treat the plant. They are effective against bugs, but wouldn’t cause any harm to the plant.
Other pests that can attack your snake plant
Besides leaf meal bugs, a variety of other pests can potentially attack and harm your snake plant too. While they may not create holes in the leaves, these bugs do cause other forms of damage. Two of the most common among these bugs are:
Although tiny in size, spider mites can ruin your snake plant due to this fast-spreading nature. Often, spider mite infestations are too rapid to control before it grows into a huge problem.
Residing on the underside of the leaves, spider mites pierce the waxy coatings to suck out the fluids inside.
Besides symptoms like discolored or yellowed leaves, you could also detect a spider mite infestation from webbings on the leaves. You can use insecticidal soap or tepid water to treat the infestation.
Mealybugs are a common problem for houseplants. Soft-bodied with cotton-like waxy coverings, these bugs form colonies in relatively protected areas of a snake plant.
Mealybugs can feed on your plant’s fluid, inject the leaves with a toxin and excrete honeydew, which promotes mold growth. In case you find a mealybug infestation, move the plant away from your other plants to prevent it from spreading.
In most cases, you can save your snake plant if you notice the holes on the leaves early and take the necessary steps. However, it is ideal to simply keep it protected from snails and bugs.
All you have to do is provide the plant with a clean environment and a few hours of sunlight a day. Snake plants do not really need a lot of care, but protecting them from pests could effectively help.