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5 Causes of Holes in Money Tree Leaves (And Solutions)

The Money Tree (Pachira aquatica) symbolizes wealth and good fortune, but it is prone to unfortunate holes in its leaves.

Let’s look at what causes the holes in your Money Tree and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

Insect pests or diseases are often to blame for money tree leaf holes. Remove insects and treat them with chemical or biological agents to ensure that any new leaves remain intact. You can also quickly fix problems with fertilizer or superficial physical damage.

Holes in Money Tree Leaves

1. Pest Infestation

The Money Tree is a delicious feast for all kinds of hungry bugs and critters.

Their leaves are low in toxins, making them suitable for a pet-friendly houseplant, but they aren’t very effective at repelling pests.

Nibbled holes appear randomly on leaves. They can occur in the center of leaves or around the edges, and they can sometimes seem as if the leaf has worn through.

Some of the culprits feed on sap, leaving behind dried-out tissue that blows away on its own.

Identifying Pests on Money Tree

Because pests like to hide in the Money Tree’s crevices, inspect the stems, leaves, and branches’ bases.

Many sapsuckers will set up camp in the small corners formed by the leaf’s veins, so pay close attention to the undersides of the leaves.

Keep an eye out for ants as well. Bugs that eat sap often secrete sugary “nectar” that ants can’t resist.

Even though ants don’t harm your plant, they are a good indicator that other pests are nearby, so I often see them before the sapsuckers.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are a type of small plant sap-sucking insect that secretes excess sap as sugary nectar.

They are hard to find because they are small and like to hide in the nooks that form around the veins of a Money Plant. They often look fluffy and can be bright white, cream, or light yellow.

Spider Mites

If your sad Money Tree is covered with soft, silky threads, you may have a Spider Mite infestation.

These little nightmares are about the size of a pinhead and are bright orange or red.

They’re sapsuckers, and they’ll set up camp in the most difficult-to-treat areas.

Aphids

Aphids are another typical lousy guy. They’re about the size of a sesame seed, and they can be green, cream, or white. They are another type of sap-sucking insect, and they live in large groups on stems.

Scale Insects

Like mealy bugs, scale insects relish sucking the Money tree dry. Various shades of gray, brown, and black cover these tiny insects, giving them the appearance of a small shield.

Only if you’re lucky will you come across them, as they prefer to hide in the crevices and crevices around the veins and stem bases of plants.

The Leaf Miner

Leaf miners are tiny pests that eat the leaf tissue from the inside out. They especially like to eat the Money Tree leaves, which they do by making a twisting path.

You may be dealing with leaf miners if your leaves have spots of translucent tissue that dry and fall away over time.

Chestnut weevil

Chestnut weevils are an unusual pest to deal with, but they are worth mentioning.

These bugs are larger than the rest of our villains, with long faces and pert round bodies on long slender legs.

They feed on the fruit of the Money Tree, so keep an eye out for them if you have a larger specimen.

The Japanese beetle

The Japanese beetle is a lovely scarab beetle with gold and green bodies.

They devour leaves to the veins, leaving only sad skeletons as a reminder of what they ate before.

Their eggs hatch into grubs that feast on any roots they can find in the soil.

Because of their voracious appetites, even a small number of these beetles can swiftly reduce a Money Tree to a pitiful phantom of its former self.

How To Get Rid of Bugs on Money Tree

You can take care of the pests by hand if there are only a few of them. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove aphids, scale, and mealybugs from the plant.

Remove and dispose of insects such as beetles and weevils by plucking them out by hand.

You can also use a garden hose or showerhead to give your Money Tree a good cleaning.

Considering how difficult it is to spot sapsuckers of all kinds, this is an effective method for treating the entire Money Tree at once.

However, pesticide spraying is the most effective method. Neem oil is perfect because it keeps bugs away without hurting us.

It also works as a leaf polish and conditioner, making the Money Tree look better overall. (See the Amazon prices here)

2. Boron Deficiency

Even a well-cared-for Money Tree can suffer from a boron deficiency because most commercial fertilizers focus on nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Boron is essential to the growth and function of leaves, and if there isn’t enough of it, the leaves will be thinner, smaller, and more fragile.

There is a tendency for minor damage to turn into a large hole. You likely have a boron deficiency if your leaves are weak and the holes appear where the leaf naturally bends.

The Solution Solution

Boron deficiency is easily corrected with supplementary nutrition. I like to use a foliar fertilizer to get that boron where it needs to be.

Spray the Money Tree’s leaves with a solution of 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon boric acid diluted in a gallon of water.

The Money Tree can use the boron right away by putting it on the leaves. It also prevents it from accumulating as a harmful acid in the soil.

3. Excess Fertilizer

The newest leaves on a Money Tree come out tightly wrapped around each other. If nitrogen levels are too high, the leaf will unfurl too quickly, causing damage to the plant.

There will be little cracks in the leaf’s fragile tissue as it is exposed to the sun.

These tiny cracks grow larger and become holes in the leaf’s surface.

So if you’ve recently seen a growth spurt from your Money Tree, keep an eye out for holes in the new leaves. If they develop spots, you’ve over-fertilized the plant.

Solution

The easiest and fastest way to fix a Money Tree that has been fed too much fertilizer is to give it a lot of water to dissolve the fertilizer and then flush the soil.

As much clean water as the growing medium can hold, soak it thoroughly.

I like to do this outside with a garden hose, but I can also do it under the shower if I have to.

After the soil has been drenched, allow the fertilizer to dissolve for about fifteen minutes.

Then add more water to flush the medium. This will flush any dissolved fertilizer from the soil.

Finally, allow the pot to drain before transferring it to its saucer or cachepot.

You can also wholly repot the Money Tree if you prefer. But, first, give yourself a fresh start with a new batch of potting soil.

Fortunately, over-enriched soil is an excellent additive to other houseplants; sprinkle a scoop or two on the soil’s surface.

The Money Tree only requires fertilization once a month during the growing season. Add an excellent all-purpose liquid fertilizer to your watering can for this.

4. Physical Damage

If you’ve looked at all the other possible causes of a Money Tree’s holes and none of them apply, you may be dealing with physical damage or its after-effects.

Almost always, the leaves of a plant knocked off a table or shelf will be broken.

Money trees are also a popular choice for households with pets or children, as their leaves are non-toxic and pose no danger to the smaller members of the home.

Tiny fingers or claws could have made the holes. To resist stroking or tearing the Money Tree’s inviting leaves is difficult for anyone, even for the most well-behaved child.

Physical damage can also be caused by poor shipping or transport handling.

These days, many commercial growers send plants through the mail.

Although Money Trees are known for their toughness, being jostled around in a box can damage even the toughest of plants.

Keep in mind that a physically damaged leaf may not develop holes until it has aged.

The damaged tissue will die off before the rest of the leaf, resulting in holes. It can take some time for an injury to manifest itself.

Solution

Keep your Money Tree out of the reach of small children and pets, tiny plants that can easily be tipped or knocked over.

Also, make sure they’re not in areas with a lot of traffic that could result in a collision with a larger one.

5. Diseases 

A host of different diseases can leave holes in your Money Tree. Many have similar symptoms, with spots or lesions appearing on leaves that rot away to leave holes.

Let’s look at how to spot some of the more common ones.

Phytophthora Blight

The veins of the Money Tree leaves become infected, and the fungus spreads throughout the tissue, causing brown, blotchy patches.

In addition, the trunks of trees are often covered in dark patches of soft or even scabby tissue as a result.

Alternaria

Yellow spots appear on the Money Tree leaves as a result of this fungal disease. They are only about a half-inch across and change from dark brown to gray or tan as the tissue dies.

Many small holes ringed with yellow or brown edging are common.

Bacterial Leaf spot

Bacterial leaf spot causes water-soaked spots with a yellow ring around them.

If your growing conditions are humid, they can quickly spread across the leaf and become sodden and blotchy. The tissue dies, and holes appear as they dry.

Sometimes the leaf tips and edges are also affected, turning brownish-yellow before drying out and breaking off.

Anthracnose

This fungus causes the round lesions that appear on the Money Tree leaves. Blisters can begin as blotches and progress to freckling and even raised bumps.

Only a hole is left behind in the diseased tissue as the disease progresses.

How to Treat Disease in Money Tree

It doesn’t matter what the cause is; you must respond immediately. One sick Money Tree can quickly infect your entire collection if it is not treated promptly.

Begin by isolating and quarantining the Money Tree. Next, cut away the infected leaves with clean, sterile shears. Leaves that are sick can’t be composted, so throw them away in the trash.

Usually, this is enough to treat mild infections, and the plant can go back into the collection in a week or two.

If you have a more severe infection, I recommend using a broad-spectrum plant medicine (Amazon link) on the Money Tree.

Home gardeners may have difficulty distinguishing between fungal, bacteria, and viral diseases, so it’s best to attack all fronts. 

Continue to water and feed the Money Tree as it recovers. Then, if there is no longer any evidence of disease, you can consider putting it back into your collection.

How to Prevent Holes on Money Tree Leaves

  • Watch out for insects and remove them as they appear.
  • Fertilize once a month, and watch for boron deficiency.
  • Keep the Money Tree away from children and pets.
  • Treat disease promptly.