15 Best Plants for Crested Geckos

Decorating a crestie’s enclosure is always lots of fun. You get to choose between different climbing ledges, hideouts, hammocks, ropes, and vines. The possibilities are endless! But what about plants? A planted vivarium looks much more natural and colorful and is even more fun for your pet to explore.

Plants are always a good idea, no question about it. But there are so many options available! Where should you even begin? That’s what I’ll cover in this article! Keep reading to discover how to choose suitable plants, plus fifteen of the most popular and beautiful options available!

Best Plants for Crested Geckos

What makes a good plant for Cresties? Well, first of all, the plant must withstand the extreme conditions in the gecko’s enclosure. This includes bright light, high temperature, and humidity.

Secondly, the plant should serve one of two purposes. A functional plant has sturdy leaves, allowing the gecko to climb safely. A non-functional plant, although not resistant enough to sustain a gecko’s weight, can provide shade and a hiding spot for your pet.

Keeping these two factors in mind, you want to look for high-temperature, high-humidity plants with either dense or sturdy foliage. The following list includes fifteen such options. However, you should know that some of these plants are classified as highly poisonous!

Alocasia, Pothos, Peace Lilies, and Philodendrons contain very high concentrations of oxalic acid, a compound deadly toxic to geckos and other animals. Now, these plants are still largely safe because geckos don’t eat leaves or grasses. But if you’re concerned about your crestie accidentally eating them, you can cross these off the list.

Lucky Bamboo

  • Care Requirements: Low
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting Needs: Bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is one of the most undemanding plants you can find. It grows well in high humidity conditions and can tolerate light shade and bright light equally well. All you need to get this plant to grow is daily misting. As the name suggests, this plant looks like miniature wild bamboo, but it’s actually a grass.

You can do so much with this plant. You can let it grow upright for a wild look or “train” it to grow in various twisted shapes. When pruning the plant, you can dry the cut parts and use them as additional décor in the enclosure. Lucky Bamboo is very sturdy and makes a good climbing toy for cresties.

Bromeliads

  • Care Requirements: Low
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Lighting Needs: Bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Bromeliads encompass a genus of multiple flowering species. They’re both beautiful and highly adaptable. Depending on the species, bromeliads may have red, pink, or orange flowers. These plants grow upright in a rosette pattern similar to pineapple leaves. Fun fact: pineapple belongs to the Bromeliad family. The more you know!

Towards the rosette base, the leaves are sturdy enough for your gecko to sit comfortably. These plants thrive in high temperatures and can tolerate up to 60% humidity. You don’t have to mist Bromeliads daily, but make sure the soil stays moist. They do well in high-lighting settings but avoid placing them directly in the basking spot. Harsh direct light can scorch the fragile flowers.

Alocasia

  • Care Requirements: High
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting Needs: Bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Alocasia, colloquially known as “Elephant Ears,” are very interesting plants. Alocasia has tough stems and very large, sturdy leaves. These range in color from dark green to reddish purple, depending on the subspecies. These huge leaves can support the weight of your gecko, making a good basking spot. They also provide shade.

Elephant Ear plants have an extreme tolerance to humidity, heat, and even harsh direct light. For all these reasons, Alocasia make excellent additions to a crestie enclosure. However, these plants also require quite a bit of care, and planting takes some trial and error. It’s not the most beginner-friendly plant, but keeping Alocasia is highly rewarding!

Orchids

  • Care Requirements: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Very slow
  • Lighting Needs: Bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Orchids are perfect for adding a pop of color to a gecko enclosure. Whether you want some vibrant purple, red, or orange, you can’t go wrong with these. Orchids get a bad rep as house plants. They need high temperatures, up to 70% humidity, and bright light exposure to thrive. Many of us can’t achieve these parameters in our homes. But it’s a different story in the vivarium!

Here, the often-overlooked Orchid can thrive with very little effort. All you have to do is water the plant regularly. Orchids are quite picky about soil quality, though. Planting can take some trial and error. Not to mention how slow this plant grows. You’re better off moving an already-grown orchid into the vivarium instead of starting with a stub. A fully grown orchid has a sturdy leaf base, letting the geckos climb and rest safely.

Prayer Plant

  • Care Requirements: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate to bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

If flowers aren’t your thing, but you still want a colorful plant for your enclosure, look no further than the Prayer plant. The Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) has wide, rounded dark green leaves. The signature pink leaf veins and the pale yellow-green center create a distinct and exotic look, perfect for a reptile vivarium!

This plant is extremely hardy, as it tolerates the high temperatures, humidity, and light exposure specific to gecko enclosures. However, Prayer plants still require some special attention. These plants are prone to root rot and can die when exposed to direct light. Use well-draining soil and mist the plants once a week for best results.

The Prayer plant can reach up to 12 inches tall and 12 inches wide when fully grown. However, due to its slow growth rate, you won’t have to worry about this plant overtaking the vivarium. The tough stems and large, rubbery leaves provide good support for climbing geckos.

Creeping Fig

  • Care Requirements: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate to bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Not sturdy

The creeping fig (Ficus pumila) is an easy filler plant that adds foliage and color to the enclosure. It grows on flexible vines and has small, round or oval leaves. This plant is extremely hardy and thrives in high temperature, high humidity conditions specific to gecko enclosures. Creeping figs can thrive in humidity levels of 50% or higher.

It’s a very beginner-friendly plant. It just needs misting a couple of times a week. However, given its rapid growth, the creeping fig requires regular pruning. You can let the fig grow freely as a carpeting plant or attach the vines to other surfaces in the enclosure. This plant is purely for decorative purposes. The soft vines and small leaves aren’t sturdy enough for the gecko to climb or sit on.

Button Fern

  • Care Requirements: Low
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting Needs: Bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Not sturdy

The Button Fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia) is an attractive and beginner-friendly plant that does well in extreme conditions. It tolerates temperatures up to 80°F and a humidity of 60% or higher. You’ll need to mist the plant regularly to keep the soil moist. The button fern likes bright indirect light, so you can plant it anywhere as long as it’s out of the basking area.

The Button Fern grows long, thin stems covered in small, round “button” leaves. It requires semi-frequent pruning due to the moderate growth rate. Given its dense foliage, this plant is best suited as a middle-to-background addition. The Button Fern is not a functional plant. It’s not sturdy enough for geckos to climb. However, it makes an excellent low-maintenance decoration.

Wandering Jew

  • Care Requirements: Low
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting Needs: Medium indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

The “Wandering Jew” is one of the most common, albeit unfortunate, names for this trailing plant. The scientific name is “Tradescantia pallida”. Other colloquial names such as “Wandering Dude,” “Inch plant,” or “Spiderwort” are also rapidly gaining traction.

This plant’s extremely hardy and easy to grow. The name “Inch plant” comes from this plant’s very rapid growth rate of 1 inch per month! Tradescantia pallida are perfect for adding a pop of color to the enclosure if you want something other than green.

This plant has oblong, deep purple leaves and grows small, bright pink flowers. All you have to do to keep this plant healthy is provide high humidity and maintain a temperature below 80°F. Place the plant far away from the basking area for optimal light exposure.

This plant does great in most types of soil and requires regular misting. Avoid overwatering, though. When fully grown, the plant’s leaves have a sturdy base perfect for a curious, climbing gecko. If grown into a bushy, trailing plant, Tradescantia pallida make for a good hideout or shaded area for your pet.

Begonias

  • Care Requirements: Low
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting Needs: Bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Begonias make up a very large genus with over 2,000 species. There’s a lot of variety in appearance, care requirements, and environmental parameters. Some Begonias do best in lower temperatures. But the most popular begonias prefer 72ºF temperatures or slightly higher.

High humidity (70-90%) is paramount, as Begonias are prone to drying out. Keep Begonias on the cooler end of the enclosure and away from the basking area to prevent moisture loss. Avoid overwatering, as Begonias are prone to root rot.

Some of the most beautiful Begonias you can use in the enclosure include the Polka Dot Begonia and the Rex Begonia. These come in a variety of sub-species and hybrids. The leaves are large and range from plain to variegated violet and green. The flowers can be pink, white, red, orange, or yellow.

Spider Plant

  • Care Requirements: Low
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting Needs: Medium indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Not sturdy

The Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is very hardy and low-maintenance. It can thrive in temperatures between 65-85ºF and 40-80% humidity, making the gecko’s vivarium very hospitable. Just remember to keep the spider plant away from harsh direct lighting.

This plant grows long, narrow, linear leaves. The base color is deep green, and the leaves have a bright pale green center. The leaves curl downward as they grow. This isn’t a good functional plant, given how narrow and flexible the leaves are. Your Geckos can’t climb it, but they can still hide among the dense foliage.

Peperomia

  • Care Requirements: Easy
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting Needs: Medium to bright light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Peperomia, colloquially known as “Radiator plants,” are very easy to grow in a vivarium. Peperomias are known for their high humidity needs and are often kept in terrariums and bathrooms. The high humidity in the enclosure will work wonders for this plant. Besides, these plants like temperatures between 65-75°F. The cooler end of the vivarium would be the perfect spot to keep one of these.

Despite its moderate growth rate, Peperomias need very little care. Multiple species exist, each with a slightly different look. These plants have rounded, medium-sized leaves ranging from bright to dark green. Peperomia caperata is a favorite among gecko owners thanks to its highly ridged texture; it makes climbing and perching easier for cresties.

Peace Lily

  • Care Requirements: Low
  • Growth Rate: Slow to moderate
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Peace Lilies encompass a genus of over 40 flowering plant species. Most of these look widely similar. They’re easily recognizable thanks to the signature white, spade-like flowers and large oval leaves. Despite their delicate appearance, Peace Lilies are extremely hardy.

They can grow in temperatures up to 80°F and need a humidity of 50% or higher. In other words, they’re perfect for a reptile vivarium! They’re sensitive to soil moisture content, though. Peace Lilies prefer well-drained soil, so avoid overwatering. The sturdy stems and leaves make Peace Lilies a good perching spot for cresties.

Polka Dot Plant

  • Care Requirements: Moderate to high
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate to bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

The Polka Dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is beautiful but not very beginner-friendly. Although it’s hardy enough to tolerate high temperatures and humidity (75°F, >50% humidity), this plant is finicky in other ways.

Polka Dot plants require a fair bit of commitment. They need nutrient-rich soil with an almost neutral pH. The soil must also provide good drainage, as Polka Dot plants are prone to root rot. Finally, you have to fertilize regularly for optimal growth.

If you’re a good gardener, though, all that investment is well worth it. The Polka Dot has a unique look you won’t find in many other plants. The heart-shaped, variegated leaves come in a bright pink base covered with rich green spots. This colorful, ornate plant looks mesmerizing and stands out as a point of interest even amongst other lush plants in the vivarium.

Pothos

  • Care Requirements: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Very fast
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate, indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is one of the most popular household plants. And it can also make a good addition to your crestie’s enclosure! Although Pothos prefer moderate temperatures, they can thrive in up to 80°F and 70% humidity! Just remember to put this plant on the cooler side of the vivarium and away from the basking area.

Of course, Pothos is a bit higher maintenance. Even if you repurpose this plant as a vivarium decoration, you still need to water and trim it regularly. Despite being a trailing vine, Pothos is sturdy enough for Cresties to climb. The large leaves also offer cover for skittish geckos.

Philodendrons

  • Care Requirements: Low
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Lighting Needs: Medium to bright indirect light
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Sturdiness: Sturdy

Philodendrons are another household favorite among plant enthusiasts. This hardy plant requires infrequent watering and very little TLC. Its ideal conditions include medium light, 70-85°F temperature, and 60-70% humidity. You can provide these effortlessly in the enclosure. You can put the plant anywhere in the enclosure, as long as it stays out of the basking spot.

The appearance of Philodendrons varies a lot depending on the species. This genus contains over 400 plants. Some varieties have rubbery, heart-shaped leaves, while others have lobed, round, or oval leaves. Some leaf colors include dark green, pale green, bronze, or pale pink. Most varieties sport large, sturdy leaves, making a good climbing spot.

Do Crested Geckos Eat Plants?

Crested geckos are omnivorous, so their diet contains animal and plant foods. That said, cresties don’t eat things like leaves or grasses. Their natural diet focuses on insects, larvae, ripe fruits, soft seeds, pollen, and flower nectar.

It’s highly unlikely for crested geckos to eat the plants in their enclosure. That’s why even high-oxalate plants like Pothos and Philodendrons are still considered widely safe. But each gecko is different. Sometimes, curious geckos might bite into softer leaves or flower petals.

It’s worth supervising your gecko for the first few days after introducing a new plant into the enclosure. In other instances, geckos might accidentally eat bits of the plant when hunting for live insects. If that’s the case, you can move your gecko to a different enclosure while feeding.

Conclusion

Nothing beats a lush, planted gecko vivarium. Besides woods, ledges, and hideouts, plants are one of the best additions to an enclosure. And luckily, there are tons of beautiful plants to choose from! Lucky Bamboo, Polca Dot Plants, and Peperomias are just some moisture and heat-tolerant plants you can add.

Decorative and beginner-friendly plants include the Creeping Fig, Button Fern, and Spider Plant. High-oxalate plants like Alocasia, Pothos, Peace Lilies, and Philodendrons are also safe and hardy plants for your crestie’s enclosure. Geckos don’t normally eat plant leaves, so oxalate poisoning is highly unlikely.

Crested Geckos   Reptiles   Updated: December 2, 2022
avatar I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *