Making a planted enclosure for your crested gecko (Correlophus ciliatus) can be a great way to offer more enrichment for your pet while also making a beautiful display.
However, you need to make sure your plants are safe for your gecko.
Here is a list of plants you may want to use in your designs.
Important Tips to Plant in a Crested Gecko’s Enclosure
The biggest thing you will need for live plants is a good lighting system. You need to offer full-spectrum lighting to make sure your live plants thrive.
You will also need to make sure your substrate is deep with a drainage layer or plan to use potted plants in your enclosure design.
If you are going for a planted enclosure, you will need to use a bioactive setup to deal with keeping the enclosure hygienic.
You should also select and place your plants with their light needs in mind. Taller plants should go at the back and ones that need more light need to be out in the open.
Make sure you offer plenty of places for your gecko to hide while the plants are growing out. You will also want to consider safe fertilizer options.
Stick with organic products with the right nutrient ratios for your plants. If you want plants that require very different watering needs, consider keeping one in a container that you hide.
This can also be a good way to keep a plant with an aggressive root system from out-competing the other plants in your enclosure.
Some plants can be toxic to different species, containing harmful or lethal chemicals like calcium oxalate crystals.
These plants are all generally considered safe for crested geckos, but they may not be safe for animals that eat their plants or may be toxic to other pets you may own.
- 1. Pothos
- 2. Bamboo
- 3. Bird’s Nest Fern
- 4. Arrowhead Vine
- 5. Spider Plant
- 6. Polka Dot Plant
- 7. Chinese Evergreen
- 8. Earth Star
- 9. Maidenhair Fern
- 10. Peperomia
- 12. Prayer Plant
- 13. Snake Plants
- 14. Alocasia
- 15. Neoregelia
- 16. Ficus elastica
- 17. Dieffenbachia
- 18. Shingle Vine
- 19. Hurricane Cactus
- 20. ‘Manaus’ Begonia
- 21. Silver Pothos
- 22. Nerve Plant
- 23. Urn Plant
- 24. Tillandsia
- 25. Zebra Plant
- 26. Jade Plant
- 27. Seemania sylvatica
- 28. Pillow Moss
- 29. Spiderwort
- 30. Ponytail Palm
Pothos is the common name for the plant Epipremnum aureum.
These are incredibly common climbing plants and make a great choice to plant near the back of the closure. The vines will climb anything they can and make a great way to help your gecko climb and jump around the enclosure safely.
Be sure you buy an organic plant and do not allow your gecko to eat it. Most cresties don’t particularly care to eat foliage, but you should always watch your gecko.
Pothos is also great because you can find it for cheap and they tend to do fine with little to no additional fertilizers.
Bamboo is a great indoor plant and works well for crested geckos. They offer sturdy climbing surfaces and foliage for your gecko to hide under.
There are lots of varieties of bamboo. Make sure you find one that will work in the substrate you have. Many varieties of bamboo also grow incredibly quickly, so be prepared to prune.
3. Bird’s Nest Fern
Bird’s nest ferns grow well at the humidities that crested geckos love.
They have dense foliage that makes a beautiful decorative or background plant.
A perfect low cover for your gecko. This is a great plant to place forward to help provide some visual cover.
4. Arrowhead Vine
This is another good choice for a vigorous vine.
Crested geckos love vines and will leap to them to help break their fall. You can use this at the back to help create an area for your gecko to climb.
5. Spider Plant
Spider plants have overhanging foliage that makes a great cover.
Since they can be larger, keep these away from the door. You will also want to make sure they have cover from other plants since the basking spot may get a bit too hot.
You can also hang these plants or place them in an area of hardscape you fill with soil.
6. Polka Dot Plant
Polka dot plants feature variegated foliage and make a great ground cover.
They do well at the temperatures and humidity that crested geckos need and rarely get over a foot in height.
They work best as a ground cover to help provide some density in the lower half of your enclosure. You will need to prune this to keep it dense.
7. Chinese Evergreen
Chinese evergreens are tall plants in the genus Aglaonema.
This does need deeper soil, but it provides sturdy stalks and leaves that will grow wide and make a great cover.
This is best in the back or corner and you can easily use this plant to help provide shade for ground plants that need more shade.
8. Earth Star
Earth stars offer plenty of low covers and come in a wide range of appearances. They can flower and are safe if your gecko decides to eat any pollen or nectar.
9. Maidenhair Fern
Maidenhair ferns typically stay low and spread out. One plant could easily cover the whole bottom of a typical crested gecko enclosure.
You could mount this higher if you like so long as you keep your enclosure higher in humidity.
These plants stay under 8 inches tall and have thick leaves that can help collect water for your gecko.
They make a great cover and do well in a corner. You can find many varieties of peperomia so you should be able to find one you like.
Philodendron hederaceum is a great choice if you are using a deeper substrate. This particular plant can form vines or be pruned to keep it as a sprawling groundcover.
12. Prayer Plant
Prayer plants are unique because their leaves are open during the day and fold up at night. They can handle any soil depth but do need pruning or they will take up the entire width of the enclosure.
13. Snake Plants
There are many varieties of snake plants. You can find taller varieties to give your gecko more vertical foliage or look for lower ones that clump up and offer plenty of cover and water collection.
Some of the lower varieties do well with less light, so they can make good ground cover options to let your gecko hide where it can cool down.
Alocasia has massive leaves that are great for cover and places to rest for crested geckos. They prefer moist soil and are very likely to grow to the top of your enclosure if you don’t prune it regularly.
This is another category of plants that can be found in a wide range of forms.
You can pick from multiple species to help fill spaces that your other plants do not. Many are fairly upright and will hold water for your gecko to drink.
This is a great genus to look into if you are struggling to find good plants to hold water.
16. Ficus elastica
Ficus elastica is a slow-growing and compact variety of rubber trees that has very large leaves. This makes it a great choice for providing cover and height.
There are a few common varieties of this genus around. Some like the ‘Panther” variety grow quickly and can help fill vertical space rapidly with its height and large leaves.
This is a great choice for finding plants that will help cover the upper half of your enclosure.
18. Shingle Vine
Shingle vines are species in the Marcgravia genus.
They tend to have compact leaves and will quickly climb any nearby structures.
They are a great choice to plant near your background or hardscape to fill the space with their overlapping leaves.
19. Hurricane Cactus
Despite the name, this plant is native to tropical areas. The leaves grow in a spiral and they can reach up to 2 feet tall. They do need softer water.
The exact species is Lepismium cruciforme and look for the spiral variety to get the unique leaf growth.
20. ‘Manaus’ Begonia
This hybrid variety has fuzzy leaves and can produce small white flowers that your gecko may enjoy. It does need very good drainage and will suffer if water stands on the leaves.
It can get up to a foot tall, but it tends to form trails. This has a unique look and should be kept further back and under other plants that can help shield it from light and dripping water.
21. Silver Pothos
Since this is sold under many common names and some of these are shared with other plants, you need to look for plants listed as being Scindapsus pictus.
Scindapsus in general is a great choice for crested geckos, and this species has huge leaves and climbs readily to fill space.
It does need good drainage and needs to be planted close to where you want it to climb.
22. Nerve Plant
Nerve plants (Fittonia verschaffeltii) come in a few colors and looks. You can find some very pink varieties or ones with ruffled leaf edges.
They do well in drained soil and need to be pruned if you plant them towards the front of the enclosure. They are a great choice for a low cover.
23. Urn Plant
The urn plant (Aechmea fasciata) is a relatively large choice that can produce flowers.
This beautiful plant does need partial shade so it is best to place them under taller plants or a dense area of ivy.
They can reach up to 3 feet, so you may want to prune it to help keep it smaller so it will fit in the enclosure. They also need well-draining soil.
Tillandsia is an air plant that likes warm and humid conditions. If you are looking for a good choice to fill some higher areas, this is a great choice.
Air plants in general are a good choice to fill up barren areas of hardscape.
Most air plants do very well in a typical crested gecko enclosure, but you should still make sure to check your exact species to make sure it will tolerate where you want to place it.
25. Zebra Plant
Zebra plants (Calathea zebrina) are a really great choice if you need something to fill vertical space.
They are often found as fake or artificial plants but the live plants are of course much better for your geckos.
The leaves give a striking look and these plants grow to help offer support and cover to smaller plants in the enclosure.
26. Jade Plant
Jade plants are known by a few names including money trees.
You should look for the Crassula ovata in particular. This spreads well from clippings and forms a sturdy trunk that can be the backbone of the enclosure.
It is best for taller enclosures such as a 3-foot enclosure. Since these are pretty common in the plant trade, make sure you find an organic option since any pesticides or fertilizers could seriously hurt your crested gecko.
27. Seemania sylvatica
These are pretty low plants. Most will not grow more than about a foot but they can be fairly wide in their growth pattern.
They do produce flowers that many crested geckos love, and do well even in low light.
28. Pillow Moss
Sheet mosses and pillow mosses make great options for filling up your enclosure along with terrarium plants.
Sheet mosses do grow in a sheet, while pillow mosses will form a cushion shape that you may like the look of.
Spiderwort (Tradescantia) is a good choice if you want something that grows very quickly. They can grow up to an inch in a day, so you will need to stay on top of pruning once it is established.
30. Ponytail Palm
Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata) are a good choice for taller plants. They have a trunk that forms a bulbous area at the base to store water. These are not true palms, and you should make sure to keep an eye on growth.
These plants are a good start if you want some great plants for your crested gecko.
You will only need a few vivarium plants to fill the space, and your enclosure will look much more natural and closer to their natural habitat.
You can also find kits for crested gecko terrariums from many sellers that will be perfect for filling up your enclosure if you don’t want to worry about selecting your own plants or finding them in your area.
There are a few other plants we could add to this list, like the ficus benjamina or creeping fig.
If you have any live terrarium plants you like for crested geckos, please share them in the comments below.