Whether you own a vivarium or a terrarium, investing in a variety of quality, living plants is a must. These species provide a bioactive or natural environment for reptiles, which helps to oxygenate their enclosures and allow them to thrive.
Using live, as opposed to artificial plants, is the perfect way to mirror a natural environment for the reptiles you are housing. The type of plants you opt for will be dependent on the creature.
This doesn’t mean limiting your vivarium to one species of the plant though, as you can place a range of plants in various parts of the habitat. Remember that your reptile may eat or destroy live plants, so you’ll want to consider non-toxic options if you know this to be the case.
If you’re curious as to which plants might be preferred by your reptile, read on to discover a selection of the best…
Why natural vivarium plants are your go-to
If you wish to create a secure, natural environment for your prized reptiles, live plants should be your go-to. Not only do they reflect a reptile’s natural habitat, they also create a secure environment and one that provides reptiles with plenty of shelter and vantage points.
Furnishing a vivarium or terrarium with live, rich reptile-approved plants encourages these creatures to showcase behaviors they would normally exhibit in the wild.
They also improve your reptile’s health by heightening carbon dioxide levels, reducing stress, and helping to maintain ambient humidity. Creating a natural habitat is of particular benefit if you are breeding reptiles.
On another note, living vivarium shrubs are more aesthetically pleasing, and if this tank is a focal point in your interior space, live plants have the extra wow factor.
Which plants to pick for a desert vivarium
Just like a natural desert, desert vivariums boast elements of sand and rock. This is when resilient plants come into play and those that prefer a humid temperature.
As desert vivariums are best suited to amphibians, it’s important to understand that these reptiles have different needs from others and prefer different types of plants accordingly. The following are some of the most popular options:
This universal house plant can grow up to one foot in height, which makes them an asset to larger terrariums. If the plant you have purchased looks a little on the small side to begin with, don’t be disheartened.
Provided that you care for it correctly, it will thrive. For best results, avoid planting Aloe Vera directly under a light source and only water when the soil is dry to the touch.
This unique plant grows in an equally unique style. Nicknamed ‘Hairy Elephant Feet’ or ‘Fairy Elephant Feet’, this species grows in a stocky stance and features a light dusting of hair.
It’s a better option for those familiar with growing plants in a vivarium, as it can be tricky to look after. If you’re willing to devote the care and attention this succulent requires, however, you will be rewarded with a vibrant purple flower!
This is an expansive flowering plant – often referred to as the ‘Black Knight’ or ‘Black Prince’ – which grows low and wide, making it another perfect plant choice for a vivarium. Each species boasts a series of rosettes, which come in various hues.
Although they grow slowly, they can reach impressive heights of 12 inches wide and high. If you’re looking for something similar, the Semper Vivum is another great option for a desert terrarium!
Which plants to pick for a tropical vivarium
Tropical vivariums are both humid and warm. They’re designed to imitate a rainforest’s natural habitat. Both amphibians and reptiles, including tree snakes and dart frogs, adore tropical vivariums.
This environment is not quite as hot as the environment of a desert vivarium, but it does boast higher humidity. Plants best suited to a tropical vivarium include:
This renowned, adaptable plant is a genus that boasts over 900 species, spanning from tropical shrubbery to trendy house plants. There are three key Ficus species suited to a tropical vivarium, comprising the Weeping Fig, the Rubber Plant, and the Creeping Fig.
Although many would assume the Weeping Fig to be too big for a vivarium, its size can be stunted when grown indoors. To thrive, it requires little water but plenty of light. The Rubber Plant boasts one single tree trunk, which when grown in a contained environment takes on a shrub style.
This sturdy plant is strong enough for the majority of creatures to scale, provided that it is grown in a solid container with well-draining soil.
The Creeping Fig is a great option for those looking to cover unpleasant parts of the space, as when given lots of light, it spreads fast and thick – a little like a living blanket.
If you only have dim light to work with, a fern is a perfect plant for your vivarium. There are three popular fern species to go for, including the Staghorn Fern, the Boston Fern, and the Bird’s Nest Fern.
The Staghorn is the best placed to withstand poor light conditions and is a prevalent choice for the fringe of an enclosure. The Boston Fern is another plant that is extremely easy to grow and requires little light and water. For best results, avoid placing it close to lamps.
The Bird’s Nest Fern requires slightly more light, yet is still easy to grow. It’s an ideal choice for tanks with reptiles that enjoy hiding, as it features wide leaves, which provide excellent coverage.
When grown as a houseplant, orchids can be tricky to grow. However, there are numerous species suited to vivariums, including both the Pink Rock Orchid and the Jewel Orchid (botanical name: Ludisia Discolor).
If you wish to add an injection of colour to your reptile space, the Pink Rock Orchid promises to pack a punch. Its main feature is a stunning, pink-purple flower.
The Jewel Orchid is equally as spectacular when it blooms, boasting leaves measuring 2-3 inches in length and with spikes spanning 10 inches.
Sources: thesprucepets.com, reptilecentre.com