When it comes to decorating your leopard gecko tank with live plants there is a huge variety of choices. But in this article, I’m going to talk about some of my personal favorites.
So, here’s the list of top 12 safe live plants for leopard geckos:
I’m sure you’ve heard of aloe vera. But this is just a single species of the genus aloe. There are plenty of other aloe species that you can use to decorate your leopard gecko enclosure.
There are aloes of many shapes and sizes so finding the one that fits best for your terrarium size won’t be that difficult. These are hardy plants that can survive well in the leopard gecko enclosure.
Aloe vera is quite popular due to how commonly you can find it and also for its medicinal benefits. So, these can be used for both decoration and consumption. For the health freaks out there I would highly recommend them.
There are also some colorful aloe species. Like the pink blush aloe and the sunset aloe. If you are going for a vibrant look then these are also good choices.
Aloes need a ton of sunlight. Six to eight hours a day. So, if your terrarium is indoors and doesn’t get much sunlight then I recommend you buy a UV light to keep them alive.
Watering Needed: Once every 3 weeks. Less during winter.
Hardiness Zone: 8 – 12
These are super hardy plants and thrive in the environment of a leopard gecko enclosure. They are called devils ivy for their incredible resilience. They are regarded to be almost impossible to kill. I love using them as a backdrop for my gecko enclosures.
I always recommend them to newbies just getting into creating bioactive terrariums. This is because they barely need any looking after and are really hard to mess up.
Some have a concern with the devil’s ivy being harmful to pets for containing calcium oxalate. But leopard geckos are 100% carnivores. So, there’s no chance of them gnawing on a leaf which makes these plants completely safe to use.
Watering Needed: Once every week.
Hardiness Zone: 10 – 12
The Christmas cactus is not your ordinary thorny, prickly cactus. Unlike most common cacti they don’t have piercing pricks on them. So, there’s no way they can hurt your leopard gecko.
They can have beautiful pink flowers which I really love. I mean, who doesn’t love flowers? But it’s not just the looks. They are pretty resilient as well, making them a popular choice among gecko owners.
You can also try the Easter cactus. These are pretty much the same as the Christmas cactus. Only their flowers are red and the leaves are a bit more rounded. If you want to build an aggressively vibrant terrarium then you can go with these.
But I’m just a sucker for pink. So, I use the Christmas cactus.
Watering Needed: Once a week.
Hardiness Zone: 9 – 11
These are my favorite plants for using in a leopard gecko enclosure. They come in all sorts of different colors and shapes. So, finding the right one should not be hard. They are also pretty common in stores.
These plants thrive in sunlight. So, if your terrarium gets adequate sunlight then these are a must-have. If not, then you can always add a few UV lights to your enclosure.
Echeverias are easy to care for and very pretty which makes them an excellent choice for both experienced and novices.
Watering Needed: Once every two weeks in summer. Once every month in winter.
Hardiness Zone: 9 – 11
Snake plants are also quite popular in the reptile community for decorating terrariums. They are best for planting at the back of your enclosure. Snake plants can get pretty long. So, use them only in enclosures which have a fair bit of height.
Their tall shape and bright green color gives off a nice mini-jungle vibe in your leopard gecko enclosure. So, if you’re going for that sort of look then you can go with these plants.
Watering Needed: Once every 2 – 8 weeks when soil is dry.
Hardiness Zone: 8 – 10
I’ve said before that I love pink. So, this being on the list is no surprise. Pink quills are one of my most favorite plants. Not for just decorating leopard gecko enclosures. But among plants in general.
They look like the tail feathers of birds. They are vibrant pink and eventually have violet flowers which just add more to their already beautiful appearance.
Pink quills are hardy and resilient. So, you don’t have to worry about them dying on you. They don’t even require much looking after.
Watering Needed: Lightly spray twice a week.
Hardiness Zone: 11 – 13
Sedge grass isn’t the most attractive plant in this list. But it’s not about how the plant looks. It’s about how you use it. With a bit of planned planting, you can definitely archive a unique look.
I mainly put them in this list because they grow very well in dry environments that are suited for leopard geckos. Your gecko can also use them for hiding.
I’ve mentioned in another article “12 Amazing Leopard Gecko Facts” that leopard geckos come from lush grassy lands. So, sedge grass can be used to mimic their natural environment.
Watering Needed: Once every 10 days or less.
Hardiness Zone: 8 – 9
Jade plants are miniature decorative house plants. They look like small trees with thick stubby trunks and rounded leaves.
Jade plants are the ultimate hardy plants. They can live for many generations. Their life span is so long that many families have a tradition of passing them down from generation to generation.
The best thing is that these plants like dry environments. Just watering them once every 2 – 3 weeks is all you need to do. This makes them perfect for planting in a leopard gecko enclosure.
Watering Needed: Once every 2 – 3 weeks
Hardiness Zone: 10 -11
Living stones are one of the weirdest plants that I’ve ever seen. But they are also weirdly beautiful.
Their name comes from their appearance. They have only two thick padded leaves that look like stones. These leaves have all sorts of colorful patterns on them. They can also have flowers.
Unlike most of the plants in this list, they don’t have any particular function in the terrarium. They don’t provide shelter or do anything for that matter. They are only used as decoration.
Watering Needed: Once every 2 – 3 weeks
Hardiness Zone: 10
Air plants take most of their nutrition directly from the air. That is why they are called air plants. Due to this nature, they can be planted basically anywhere. Stones, driftwood, cork bark, you can grow them anywhere.
They are great for those aiming for a jungle theme in their leopard gecko terrarium. They don’t grow very fast. And don’t need much special caring.
There are many different sorts of air plants. Each with their distinctive color and shape. So, you can expect a wide variety of plants to choose from. This is really helpful for achieving just the right look in your leopard gecko tank.
Watering Needed: Once a week. Soak for 2 hours every 3 weeks.
Hardiness Zone: 9 – 11
The zebra cactus is not really a cactus. It’s actually a succulent just like aloe vera or echeveria. Their leaves are green, thick, and fleshy. They have white stripes all over them like a zebra which is why they are called zebra cactus.
They are native to Africa. So, you can say that they prefer a dry and hot environment. This makes them perfect for planting in leopard gecko enclosures.
Watering Needed: Once a week in summer. Once every 2 weeks in winter.
Hardiness Zone: 9 – 11
Last but not least we have the peperomias or more commonly known as radiator plants. A vast number of plants belong to this genus so you’ll definitely have tons of options to choose from.
They require very little watering and thrive in dry areas. This makes them easy to look after and perfect for leopard gecko enclosures.
Watering Needed: Every 10 days. Less in winter.
Hardiness Zone: 10 – 11
How to choose the right plants for your leopard gecko enclosure
The plants I’ve mentioned in this list are not the only ones you can use to build your bioactive terrarium.
There are so many plants that I’ve used with success yet didn’t mention here. And so much more that I’ve never even tried. So, it’s possible that you will come across a plant that I didn’t mention in this list but you really want to have in your leopard gecko enclosure.
But what do you look for in a plant to make sure it survives in your terrarium? Well, in this guide I’m going to briefly talk about just that. Here are some things that I look for in a plant for my leopard gecko enclosures –
1. Needs little water
Minimal water requirement is a must for decorating leopard gecko enclosures. The lesser the better. This ensures that you can keep a dry environment within the terrarium which is a must for leopard geckos.
Choose plants that are tough and hardy. Nobody has the time to spend hours every day just so that their terrarium looks good. That is why most of the plants in this list are tough and stubby plants.
This allows you to decorate your leopard gecko enclosure with minimal maintenance. Also, tough plants have a lesser chance of being trampled by your gecko.
3. High hardiness zone
Hardiness zone is a scale between 1 – 13 which is used to determine what kind of temperature a plant can withstand. For every 10°F the hardiness zone increases by 1.
Usually, for a leopard gecko enclosure, the hardiness zone of the plant of your choice should be close to 9 or above.
Safety should always be your number one priority while making any changes to your leopard gecko enclosure. So, it is best to avoid plants that contain any sort of harmful chemicals such as oxalates.
A good thing about leopard geckos is that they are completely carnivorous. So, the chance of them biting on a plant is very low. But I still advise you to remain cautious while using these sorts of plants.
The plants you choose don’t always need to have a function or a purpose but it would be cool if they do. You should always plan out a theme and think about which plants can actually help your gecko to be comfortable in its enclosure.
I’ve previously mentioned that I use hedge grass to mimic the natural environment of leopard geckos. Also, they work as a good place to hide which can help to improve their physical and mental health.
6. Looks good
This one should be obvious. Part of why you’re doing this in the first place is to make your terrarium look good.
Using a variety of plants with different colors is a good way to create a vibrant terrarium that will definitely amaze anyone who sees it.
Bioactive terrariums serve a double purpose. Firstly, they beautify your terrarium and your home. Secondly, they help the inhabitants of the enclosure as well. This is because a well-planned enclosure will put your leopard gecko at ease and feel right at home.
This is also super simple and doesn’t take much effort from your part. So, there’s no reason to not do it.
Do you have any previous experience with building bioactive enclosures? We would really appreciate your response and it definitely helps our readers. So, feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. Thank you.