Wondering About Safe Plants for Crested Geckos Tanks? This guide is for you!
In setting up your crested gecko’s enclosure, your priority should be on safety and the overall well-being of the reptile.
Create the proper environment and motivation for your crestie to exercise by climbing around safe plants and their branches.
In creating a suitable habitat for your crested gecko, consider the type of plants to use in the terrarium. You have a choice of natural plants and fake ones. Both plants have their strengths and weaknesses, and you need to adequately inform yourself.
This article covers some of the plants you can use to make your crested gecko’s life more exciting and wholesome.
Which Plants to Use for Your Crested Gecko Terrarium?
You can use a wide range of plants for your crested gecko’s tank. However, the list may be too long and overwhelming if you are new in this field.
This is because you can’t use all of them – they can’t possibly fit into your gecko’s tank, unless it is abnormally gigantic.
Fortunately, you can employ a simple way to determine the most suitable plants. This is based on the size of the enclosure and your pet’s age.
Let’s have a look at these in detail.
Plant Choice Based on Tank Size
A crested gecko tank should have adequate height to give room for tall plants. This is because, being good climbers, crested geckos enjoy spending their time exploring the branches of plants.
A vertical gecko tank is preferable to a horizontal one. An ideal crested gecko tank should measure 18” × 18” × 24’’.
This tank size has adequate horizontal and vertical space, and will keep your pet well-occupied.
A good tank size affords you the luxury of adding a number of pieces of wood and plants to provide your pet with adequate hiding and basking spots.
If you use natural plants, consider that they grow and are likely to fill the tank and change the ecosystem if they go unattended.
Plant Choice Based on Crested Gecko Age
Baby and juvenile cresties are not as avid climbers as grownups. As such, babies and juveniles need smaller plants compared to adults.
Small plants can support the weight of baby geckos. These plants will also provide adequate shelter for the babies when they want to hide for some time.
However, bear in mind that young cresties are constantly growing. Therefore, you may have to change the tank specifications to accommodate bigger and taller plants once the young ones reach adulthood.
Fake or Real Plants for Your Crested Gecko Terrarium? The Pros and Cons
Using Fake Plants for your Crested Gecko Tank
- Don’t require constant watering
- You don’t have to prune them
- You can have a bigger plant at any time; you don’t have to wait for it to grow
- They will not colonize the tank since they don’t grow
- You can rearrange the plants without changing the ecosystem in the tank
- Easily bore the cresties because they don’t change
- Become shabby after some time and have to be replaced
- Your pet may ingest some plastic from these plants
Using Real Plants for your Crested Gecko Tank
- Creates natural biodiversity for your crestie
- Will not harm your pet if accidentally ingested
- Give the crestie a natural feel for exploration and growth
- Do not require constant cleaning as most are self—cleaning. However, you still have to clean the tank regularly.
- Some plants need lots of care, which could draw your attention from your geckos.
- They can easily alter the tank’s humidity because they need to be watered regularly.
- If left unattended, they’ll colonize the tank.
- Some plants are toxic and should be nowhere near your crested gecko
How to Establish the Right Tank
Before purchasing the trees you have identified for your crested gecko, you should prepare the tank.
This is important because the geckos and plants need to enjoy peaceful co-existence. Poor tank setup creates a poor environment for your crested gecko.
As such, you must consider a number of factors related to the tank.
For example, what size is most appropriate for the number of geckos you intend to keep? What kind of substrate layering do you want to use?
You can’t keep more than one male in a tank, which will create bad blood between them. However, it’s possible to house one male with a group of females.
Consider all this as you plan the tank setup. Ideally, you should have about 15 gallons of space for every adult crestie.
If there are two adults, however, a 20-gallon tank would suffice.
Being climbers, crested geckos do well in tall tanks. They like spending their time exploring the branches of plants you provide for them.
Set up a tank that opens from the front, making it easier for you to open and clean it. Also, ensure it is well-ventilated so that both animal and plant can have enough air to share.
To guarantee adequate circulation, many keepers prefer solid tanks on three sides with a screen on one – preferably the top side.
If you prefer this tank, ensure that the air inflow does not mess up the humidity and temperature levels within the tank.
Establish a Proper Landscape
Your crested gecko needs to interact with a number of objects in the tank to make its life livable and more enjoyable.
These objects form the landscape. In addition, the pieces form the tank background, making it attractive and functional.
You’ll need to come up with the right climbing structures to make the lives of the tank’s occupants realistic. Such structures include a faux jungle complete with trees, tubes, and rocks.
If you choose to use non-living items to create the environment, your maintenance and cleaning costs will be lower.
Some gecko tanks come equipped with the pieces you need to form the landscape. You simply secure these pieces in the desired places, and you’re good to go.
A good number of keepers prefer to use vines as they add to the general décor of the tank. In addition, crested geckos love vines as it makes their environment stimulating.
Before bringing the cresties and plants into the tank, ensure the landscape is dry and free of fumes.
What Are the Best Plants for Your Crested Gecko Enclosure?
#1 – Pothos
This is a green, fast-growing vine. Its large leaves provide your crested gecko with the right conditions for climbing.
It also creates fantastic hiding spots for reptiles. For this reason, it is best used on the lower levels of the tank.
The pothos is strong enough to hold the weight of a fully grown adult gecko. In addition, its structure allows the reptile to spread its weight evenly while perched on the plant.
Being a hardy plant, the pothos will thrive under the humid and temperate conditions of the enclosure.
It doesn’t need a lot of water and care, making it a low to moderate-maintenance plant. The pothos plant also reacts fairly well to various lighting conditions.
This plant turns on a more brilliant color if the light is brighter.
#2 – Creeping Wire Vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa)
Also known as angel vine, this plant is a welcome addition to any terrarium for its long, solid tendrils and beautiful leaves.
It provides the perfect platform for climbing and explorative ventures for your crested gecko.
The creeping vine does very well in the temperature and humidity conditions you’ve set for your pet. However, it does need lots of water – it is okay once or twice a week.
Take care not to give it too much water – draining is an important aspect of caring for this plant. Too much water may cause some problems, such as rot and decay.
The angel vine does not do very well in direct sunlight. Therefore, do not place it in the warmest part of the enclosure – it will do better in the tank’s cool zone.
Trim this plant often to prevent it from growing too long. Being a fast grower, the creeping vine will likely colonize the enclosure.
#3 – Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
This plant looks like a nest because of its wavy and rounded foliage. However, it is both tall and wide, making it suitable for the mid-ground of the tank.
Being a fast grower, the Bird’s Nest Fern requires constant tending. Failure to prune and control its growth will see this plant soon dominate the entire terrarium.
The bird’s nest fern is not ideal for climbing because it is not sturdy enough. However, if you place these plants next to each other, your crested geckos can climb them safely and comfortably.
This plant does not require a lot of watering. As long as the soil is wet or moist, the bird’s nest fern will thrive quite well.
This should be among your first choices if you’re looking for a plant that does not die off quickly.
#4 – Bromeliads (Neoregelia sp.)
This plant’s wide range of colors makes it ideal for creating color effects in the tank. The different colors are awe-inspiring when light plays on them.
If you desire to add a dash of color to your crested gecko’s tank, consider the bromeliad variety of plants on your list.
These plants need a sturdy bark base or cork to strengthen them as they grow. With this kind of support, your cresties can climb safely and comfortably.
Some of the bromeliads varieties you should consider for your pet’s enclosure include:
#5 – Pink Quill (Tillandsia cyanea)
Keepers praise this plant for the color motif it introduces into their pet’s enclosures. This plant has succulent pink branches surrounded by green leaves on all sides.
As the plant grows, it produces beautiful violet flowers that add even more color to the enclosure.
The punk quill is strong enough to hold the weight of adult crested geckos. Because your pet is an avid climber, this plant is a most welcome addition to the terrarium.
The plant is hardy and withstands high humidity, and temperature levels often found in terrariums.
Because they don’t need much water and can survive in various conditions, the pink quill is a low-maintenance plant.
#6 – Cushion Moss (Leucobryum glaucum)
Also known as pillow moss, this plant is the eye candy of your crested gecko’s terrarium. It looks like a squishy cushion that looks in moisture, thus maintaining the correct humidity in the tank.
Your cresties will enjoy nibbling the succulent moss.
#7 – Musa Little Prince Banana Tree
This tree should be used for very large enclosures as it can grow quite huge. Although it produces bananas, its primary use is ornamental.
The Musa Little Prince Banana Tree has a large trunk that provides stability for your crested gecko to climb the plant and explore.
Its width provides little climbers inspiration to enjoy themselves in the enclosure.
This plant grows quickly if placed on the warmer part of the enclosure. If you don’t want it to grow too fast, put it in a moderate-temperature area.
Provide well-draining soil for this plant to thrive.
#8 – Concinna Prayer Plant (Calathea concinna)
This plant’s dark, waxy leaves open and close in the morning and evening, earning it the name Prayer Plant.
The plant does well in the crested gecko’s tank because it thrives in high humidity. However, this is a delicate plant that needs good looking after.
Without constant watering and good draining soil, this plant will wither and die off.
#9 – Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
Like the plants described above, the peace lily is non-toxic and can thrive quite well alongside your crested gecko.
This plant is quite hardy and withstands a big range of temperature, humidity, and lighting variations. However, keep a close eye on the Peace Lily as it tends to grow quickly.
Also, avoid over-watering it, as this can bring a set of complications such as root rot.
#10 – Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola)
The Dwarf Umbrella Tree forms a symmetrical circle with its dark-green foliage, adding to the beauty of the enclosure.
Although this plant grows quite fast, it is easy to prune. Your crested gecko will love the dwarf umbrella tree because it provides the right platform for climbing.
Its trunk is strong enough to withstand the weight of mature cresties. Also, this plant does well in the humid environment found in gecko tanks.
The Dwarf Umbrella Tree is a low-maintenance plant that can go for several weeks without being tended to.
However, do not place this plant in stagnant water, as this will surely kill it.
#11 – Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina)
To give your crested gecko the best climbing experience, choose a Weeping Fig that is already mature. Grown Weeping Figs have thick trunks that your pet will enjoy navigating.
You can place other materials such as bamboo, hammocks, and ledges around this plant to make it easier for your reptile to climb it.
#12 – Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)
The Creeping Fig can stick to any surface. As such, you can place it anywhere you’d like your crested gecko to climb and explore.
This plant is a favorite because of the mat-like tangle of vines it adds to the enclosure. Cresties love vines because they provide the right platform to create all the fun they need.
Being a hardy plant, the Creeping Fig does well in the high humidity, and temperature levels often found in crested gecko tanks.
Trim and prune this plant often, so it doesn’t colonize the entire enclosure, considering it is an incredibly fast grower.
#13 – Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
As the name suggests, the Chinese Evergreen is an evergreen plant that does well in a crested gecko’s enclosure.
It has strong fronds that can support the weight of fully-grown crested geckos. Also, it is a hardy plant that withstands wilting commonly brought about by humid conditions.
This plant does well if you keep it away from stagnant water. Instead, it prefers to stand on moist, well-draining soil.
It’s best to place the Chinese Evergreen in a big enclosure because it grows quickly.
#14 – Rabbit’s Foot Fern (Humana/Davallia tyermanii)
The Rabbit’s Foot Fern can be grown as a stand-alone plant or on another plant as an epiphyte. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants.
This plant does well on the cooler and darker side of the enclosure. This is just as well because its sliver—white color comes out very nicely in the shade.
The Rabbit’s Foot Fern prefers a moist environment away from direct sunlight.
#15 – Elephant Ears (Alocasia Polly)
The elephant ears are a favorite plant for crested geckos to climb and bask on. Its strong stalk and large leaves provide an excellent platform for the geckos to explore their world.
Note that the Elephant Ears plant requires a lot of care. Being a delicate plant, it is not recommended for beginners.
Keep this plant in the cool, darker areas of the tank, away from sunlight.
#16 – Radiator Plant (Peperomia)
Since radiator plants grow to about 12 inches, they are small enough to fit in any crested gecko tank. Therefore, unlike some fast-growing plants, the Radiator Plant does not require much care.
It is hardy enough to survive with just a little tending and watering. This plant has dark-green and black leaves that add to the ambiance of the tank, especially if the enclosure has other light-colored plants as well.
The Radiator Plant does well in moist soil, away from direct sunlight.
#17 – Jade Jewel (Dracaena fragrans)
The Jade Jewel can co-exist very well with your crested gecko pet. This is because it prefers the humidity and temperature in these reptiles’ enclosures.
Its strong stalks and green and white leaves can support the weight of fully-grown crested geckos. This plant is low-maintenance; it will do well in a wide range of conditions as long as you don’t subject it to wet soils or stagnant water.
#18 – Petra (Codiaeum variegatum)
This plant has variegated fronds that stabilize geckos to climb and explore their environment.
Because of its sturdiness and stability, Petra can be used as a support plant for climbing plants, such as vines.
Petra does well in the lighting, temperature, and humidity conditions prevalent in crested geckos’ enclosures.
Avoid making frequent changes to the enclosure, as this plant responds poorly to abrupt changes. Its maintenance level is moderate, requiring spaced-out watering to allow the soil to adequately dry out.
#19 – Arrowhead/Goosefoot (Syngonium)
This is a great plant to include in the vivarium because your crested gecko will love it, and is easy to care for.
The arrowhead plant has green and white leaves that greatly enhance the ambiance of the enclosure. Under certain conditions, the leaves can turn pink, making the plant even more attractive.
Also, there are purely pink Arrowhead varieties. These include the Neon Robusta and Pink Syngonium varieties.
Because this plant spreads out quickly, you need to check its growth by trimming it lest it takes over the entire enclosure.
The Arrowhead plant requires solid support it can grow around. You can use bamboo or wood support for this.
#20 – Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
The Spider Plant does not require much care since it doesn’t grow so fast. Also, it is highly adaptable, making it ideal for the humidity, lighting, and heating arrangements in your crested gecko enclosure.
Ensure that you provide this plant with well-draining soil.
Keeping it in stagnant water will likely cause many problems, such as root rot, affecting your pet’s health and overall wellbeing.
The spider plant improves the ambiance of the terrarium by adding a dash of white and green.
#21 – Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria laurentii)
The Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (also known as the Snake Plant) is a green, upright, sword-shaped plant best suited for a larger vivarium.
Although this plant appeals to the eye, it’s not very suitable for climbing. As such, it is best used as a decorative plant.
Crested geckos like it because it provides ideal hiding spots when they want to escape the heat in the enclosure.
The Snake Plant is easy to maintain since it needs little water and low light.
#22 – Zebra Plant (Calathea zebrina)
This plant can grow as tall as 6ft and is thus unsuitable for smaller enclosures. However, if your tank is big enough, you’ll love the yellow or pink strips display this plant adds to the enclosure.
The Zebra Plant grows quite fast and should be kept in check through trimming. It thrives in indirect sunlight and well-draining soils.
The leaves and stalks of this plant provide a good base for your crested gecko to explore the tank.
#23 – Lemon Button Fern
This plant produces a light lemon scent that is entirely harmless to your crested gecko. Its beauty adds to the aesthetics of the enclosure, making it more appealing to you and your visitors.
The leaves of the lemon Button Fern are small, bright-green, and button-shaped. The plant is strong enough to support the weight of a fully grown crestie.
Also, it takes well to the environmental conditions in the tank.
As long as the plant has access to moist-well-draining soil, it will withstand the environmental changes in your pet’s enclosure.
#24 – Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Lucky bamboo is a type of grass that is safe to use in your gecko’s tank. Maintaining this plant is easy because it doesn’t require much cleaning.
Its structural stability is handy when the cresties want to climb and explore their world. Also, the Lucky Bamboo plant can be used as the support base for vines and other creeping plants.
Many keepers use this plant as a ladder for geckos to use when they want to move between plants of different heights.
Plants You Should Never Introduce into the Enclosure
Not all plants should go into your crested gecko’s enclosure. While some are outright toxic, others create unhealthy conditions and may jeopardize your pet’s life.
Never put the following plants into your gecko’s tank:
- Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
- Mistletoe (Phoradendron villosum)
- Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
- Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
- Dumbcane (Dieffebbachia)
- Begonias (Begonia)
- Voodoo lily (Dracunculus vulgaris)
- Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
- Ivy (Hedeara spp.)
Are Potted Plants Good for My Crested Gecko Enclosure?
Potted plants are an excellent addition to your crested gecko tank. However, care must be taken to ensure the plants are safe for your pet.
As noted above, not all plants are ideal for your crestie. Even if you use a particular potted plant for your home, you need to find out whether it’s suitable for your pet before introducing it to the enclosure.
Fortunately, this should not be a big issue for you, considering there are hundreds of safe potted plants you can use in the reptile’s tank.
At the same time, use pots that add aesthetic value to the terrarium. Using old containers and dilapidated pots are doing an injustice to the crested gecko and its enclosure.
Most experienced keepers use terracotta pots in the enclosure for two good reasons. One, terracotta pots don’t wear easily; they are long-lasting.
Two, these pots absorb moisture, unlike plastic or glass containers. This is good because the terracotta pots create the right conditions for the enclosure to stay moist.
You can choose hundreds of natural and false plants for your crested gecko’s enclosure. What you eventually pick depends on the kind of experience and exposure you’d like your pets to have.
The most important consideration should be how safe the plants are for your pet. The plants covered in this article are widely used by many crested geckos worldwide.
You can pick just what you need from this list for your crested gecko enclosure.