Although Fiddle Leaf Figs aren’t the most straightforward houseplants, they will reward you with consistent and healthy growth if you’re meeting their needs. So, when you notice that some of your Fig’s leaves have holes in them, rather than panicking, you should think of it as your Fiddle Leaf letting you know that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
There are many reasons that a Fiddle Leaf Fig could have leaves with holes. A pest infestation is most likely; many insects feed on leaf tissue, creating holes. Other common causes are humidity issues that affect new growth, nutrient deficiencies, rot caused by overwatering, or physical damage.
Although holes in your Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves can be concerning, as long as you know what to look for and ways to remedy the situation, you should be able to prevent the issue from getting worse, and any new leaves should grow in healthy and intact.
What to Expect from Healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
Fiddle Leaf Figs are actually quite good at using their leaves to communicate health and care issues to their owners. As long as they have their needs met and aren’t facing any crises, they will happily produce healthy foliage regularly.
New growth emerges from the stem tips and unfurls into new leaves. While typically small to start, these leaves will continue to expand to full-sized, pliable, shiny, mature leaves over time.
As they grow, they will thicken slightly, and their edges will begin to scallop gently, giving them the classic Fiddle Leaf Fig look. These leaves should have a consistent green color all over, without the presence of any yellowing, browning, or evidence of burning.
Mature leaves will stiffen as they thicken but should remain pliable and bendable without breaking or cracking. Although it’s natural for the leaves to grow more brittle over time, you should only notice this in the very oldest leaves near the bottom of the plant.
Healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves don’t have holes in them. If you notice any holes, this is an indication that you should inspect your plant and try and determine the cause of the issue.
Below, I outline the most common reason you may find holes in your Fig’s leaves.
Why Does My Fiddle Leaf Fig Have Holes in Its Leaves?
Remember that Fiddle Leaf Figs, while sometimes considered high maintenance, are often great communicators when they need something, and their leaves are what do the talking. If they’re dry, they wilt. If they’re overwatered, they turn yellow. So, if you are noticing holes in the leaves, think of it as your Fiddle Leaf trying to tell you something.
Reason #1 – Pests
One reason Fiddle Leaf Figs get holes in their leaves is due to pest infestations. Although it is pretty uncommon to have insect infestations to produce noticeable holes in the leaves, it is definitely the most pertinent and should be acted on quickly.
Lots of different insects or pests can cause issues with leaf health that eventually lead to the destruction of leaf tissue. Common culprits include spider mites, aphids, leaf miners, slugs/snails, and caterpillars.
If you are noticing holes in your leaves, the first thing I would suggest is to look for signs of pest infestation. Check the entire plant from top to bottom, especially on the affected leaves. Aside from the holes, you can look in areas where you see tissue damage, discoloration, or signs of insects, like webs or frass (insect poop).
Isolate your Fiddle Leaf Fig from other houseplants, either by removing it from the vicinity of other plants or, better yet, moving other plants, so your Fiddle Leaf doesn’t have the added trauma of a change in its environment.
Treat your plant to deal with the infestation. Depending on the type of pest, this may be hand picking to remove individual bugs, natural remedies like Neem oil or soap, or using an insecticide approved for treating the specific pest and is also safe for Fiddle Leaf Figs.
Monitor your plant closely after treatment, ensuring that the signs of infestation are improving and you no longer see any bugs. Existing holes won’t be repaired, but any new growth should be healthy and intact.
Consider how the infestation happened. Check other houseplants for similar issues and use caution if you ever put your Fiddle Leaf outside on warm days.
Reason #2 – Humidity
Another common reason that an otherwise healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig might have holes in its leaves is due to low humidity.
Sometimes, when Fiddle Leaf Figs are growing in a spot that has low humidity, new leaves are impacted as they unfurl from their sheaths. Without enough moisture, leaf tissue can get stuck in the leaf bud and get torn as it tries to unfurl. These holes aren’t repairable, so as the leaf matures, they become more pronounced.
Most climate-controlled homes generally have sufficient humidity for many different types of houseplants. However, humidity levels can vary drastically based on the time of year, the weather outside, and placement within the home, so be sure to consider all of these factors when deciding if humidity might be the cause of this issue.
If you do suspect the holes in your Fiddle Leaf Fig are caused by humidity issues, you may want check your humidity levels and add a humidifier to the room. This is an effective way to raise and maintain a humidity that works well for your Fiddle Leaf, generally between 40-60%. (Read more about our favorite humidifiers here.)
Lots of people like to mist their Figs several times a week. While this definitely doesn’t hurt the plant in any way, I find misting to be too temporary of a solution to low humidity problems. As soon as the misted water dries up, the humidity begins to drop again. A humidifier large enough to impact the room your Fiddle Leaf is placed in offers the best consistency over time.
Regardless of how you go about it, after you increase the humidity level for your Fiddle Leaf, watch new growth as it unfurls. Those new leaves shouldn’t have any holes in them.
Reason #3 – Nutrient Deficiency
A less common cause of leaf holes developing in your Fiddle Leaf is a nutrient deficiency. Plants need certain nutrients and minerals in order to create and maintain healthy tissues. If a nutrient is in short supply, it is often leaf tissue that is the first to show signs that something isn’t right, often discoloring or changing texture, and in severe cases, dying.
Now, I say this is less common because most potting soils have sufficient levels of both macro and micronutrients, and we often supplement our houseplants with occasional feedings of fertilizer to help them grow and stay healthy.
However, over time, if you don’t feed your plant, the soil will get depleted and you may see signs of nutrient deficiency in the leaves of your Fig. There are many different types of nutrient deficiency that can affect your plant, but here are some common ones that lead to tissue necrosis.
Boron is important for cell expansion, water management, and nutrient transport in plants. When it is lacking, you will often see deformed leaf growth, darkening of the leaves, brittle or leathery new growth, and eventually tissue death.
Zinc helps with chlorophyll production and other important functions within a plant. If you have a zinc deficiency, you’ll likely see it in the newest growth, with yellowing in between veins and spots of dead tissue that will brown and crumble away.
Like zinc, copper is important for chlorophyll function. A copper deficiency will produce deformed new growth with necrotic spots if allowed to get bad enough.
Regardless of the type of nutrient deficiency, you can usually fix it by applying a well-balanced liquid fertilizer, making sure to pick one that includes both macro and micronutrients. Start by diluting it to half strength and apply it once a month. Over time, you should see improvement on any new growth coming from your Fig.
One word of caution on fertilizing your Fig: never add fertilizer during the winter. This is a time where most of the above-ground growth has slowed and your plant is in a semi-hibernation sort of state. Fertilizing at this point does more harm than good.
Reason #4 – Rot
If you are overwatering your Fiddle Leaf Fig, any holes you see in your leaves may be caused by rot. Chronic overwatering has a tremendous impact on a plant’s root system and ability to absorb nutrients.
Over time, a plant that is severely affected by overwatering may start to produce brown or black spots on its leaves, usually starting on the lowest parts of the plant first. These spots are damaged tissue that will eventually die, leaving holes with brown edges that can continue to spread. You may encounter this situation with other classic signs of overwatering, such as yellowing leaves and droopy stems.
If you suspect your plant has been overwatered, allow it to dry out to reduce the spread of rot. Check the root ball, removing any rotten roots as soon as possible. If you see leaves with brown spots, those should be removed, as well.
Moving forward, only water when the first two inches of topsoil in the pot has dried out.
Reason #5 – Physical Damage
The last common cause of holes in your Fiddle Leaf Fig is physical damage.
During your Fig’s lifetime, it’s pretty normal that it will be subjected to repotting, pruning, being moved to different locations around the house, or even chewing from curious pets wanting a quick taste test. In all of these situations, leaves can get punctured or creased, leading to tears or holes that won’t be repaired.
Usually, these types of injuries to your plant are few and far between, but just be mindful anytime you need to handle your plant and try to reduce the amount of trauma your Fig experiences.
Another thing to consider is sun exposure. Light levels and intensity can change throughout the day, week, month, or season. Although your Fiddle Leaf loves a lot of light and is even capable of handling a lot of direct sunlight, sometimes leaves can get sunburned or scorched, causing tissue damage. (Read more about Fiddle Leaf Figs and sunburn here.)
If the burn is severe enough, parts of the leaf may not recover and will be dry and brittle, eventually decaying away and leaving a hole in the leaf. Watch for changing light levels and protect your Fig accordingly. Often, this is as easy as putting up a sheer curtain or pulling your Fig a few feet back from a window.
Don’t panic if you happen to find holes in your Fiddle Leaf Fig and you’re not sure how they got there. Often, it is fairly easy to figure out the cause, as long as you are methodical in how you investigate it.
Start by checking for pests because you’ll want to nip any type of infestation in the bud quickly. If your plant is pest-free, consider your care habits and the plant’s environment to see if something has changed. Most causes are easily fixed, and you should see improvement as new growth is produced.
Fiddle Leaf Figs are pretty resilient plants, so although holes in older leaves are unlikely to get repaired, you can bet that any new growth will produce healthy, solid leaves.