What Plants To Put In Chameleon Cage?

what kind of plants to put in chameleon cage

What Plants To Put In Chameleon Cage? Chameleons are exotic reptiles that need to be caged in order to thrive. They require a specific environment with plants, UVB lighting and the correct substrate for their feet.

One of the most important considerations when building a chameleon cage is what type of plants to put in it.

There are many factors to consider when deciding which plants will work best for your pet’s needs, so here are some tips on how you can select the right ones for your reptile friend!  

 First off, you’ll want to decide if you want live or fake plants inside of your chameleon cage.

Live plants have been shown to help provide cleaner air and water but they also require more maintenance than fake varieties do.


What plants to put in the chameleon cage?

Chameleons are territorial animals and in the wild spend most of their time on a relatively small amount of plants. In captivity they don’t have such limitations and will often use your entire terrarium as their territory, thus making it necessary to provide them with more than one kind of plant.

Commercially available chameleon plants focus mostly on tropical jungle-like species that don’t require any (or very little) light and can survive in humid conditions.

These types of plants aren’t necessarily unsafe for your chameleon but not all owners are willing to keep their pets in non-fluorescent lit enclosures, even if there’s no direct sunlight coming through the windows.

There are more reasons why some people prefer not to let their pets roam around on some types of plants. By now it’s pretty much common knowledge that most chameleon species are able to absorb nutrients through their feet and the way they do so is by licking them with their tongues.

For this reason, owners should be careful what types of plants they use for their terrariums as many houseplants aren’t safe for your chameleon’s health.

Below you will find a list of commonly used houseplants – some of them are considered absolutely safe while others might pose problems for your pet which can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening conditions caused by poisoning or allergies.

The list has been compiled based on our experience with various poisonous houseplants and popular gardening forums where several chameleon owners have posted their findings. Keep in mind that our list is not a definitive authority on the matter and we recommend doing further research if you’re unsure about a particular plant or have doubts about whether your pet can be harmed by it.

Beware of plants from the Asparagaceae family!

They contain calcium oxalate crystals which are known to cause mouth irritation when licked, for this reason, they shouldn’t be used as live plants in cages with chameleons, no matter how young and small the species.

Your pet might show no signs of discomfort after touching these plants but trust us – you don’t want to take chances and find out what happens when it’s too late! The worst part is that some of the plants from this family might not even be on our list – if you can’t find a plant’s scientific name, don’t get it!

What Plants To Put In Chameleon Cage

Safe plants for chameleon cages:

  • Aglaonema commutatum (Chinese evergreen)
  • Aloe vera
  • Asparagus sprengeri (Cape fern)
  • Chamaedorea tepejilote (Mexican bamboo palm)
  • Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’
  • Dracaena marginata
  • Dracaena surculosa
  • Philodendron species and hybrids (all forms) including: heart-leaf philodendron, split leaf philodendron, red emerald, elephant ear philodendron
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (snake plant)
  • Sansevieria cylindrica
  • Spathiphyllum species (peace lilies) including: white butterfly, golden pathos
  • Syngonium species and hybrids (all forms), Syngonium podophyllum ‘Albolineatum’, Syngonium praetense ‘Pink Santa Fe’, Syngonium ‘White Butterfly’ tricolor

Safe plants for chameleon cages: – These are the same plants that are safe for other reptiles. You can find these in pet stores or even Walmart sometimes. Some of these include hibiscus, pothos, dracaena sp. etc.

How to Raise Humidity in Chameleon Cage

Unsafe plants for chameleon cages:

Aglaonema commutatum (Chinese evergreen) Asparagus officinalis (asparagus fern)

  • * Bamboo palm Begonia species and hybrids Caladium – any colors including: angel wings, elephant’s ears and sunset begonias Canna indica Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (parlor palm)
  • * Codiaeum variegatus (croton)
  • * Coleus cultivars Corn plant Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’ / D. fragrans ‘Warneckei’ Euphorbia millii / E. tirucalli ( pencil plant ) Fittonia verschaffeltii Peace lily Pothos species and hybrids (all forms) Schefflera arboricola (umbrella tree) / S. actinophylla (Australian sword fern) Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (snake plant)
  • * Sansevieria cylindrica variegated Spathiphyllum sp. – white butterfly, golden pathos Schefflera species
  • *These could be safe if they’re not in chameleon cages long-term but we do not recommend putting your pet in constant contact with them for fear of permanent damage to their eyes or internal organs due to poisoning.

One more thing – some plants produce toxic smoke which can be harmful – if you want to use a plant in your chameleon’s cage, make sure you air it out for at least a week and preferably two weeks before letting them near it.

Keep in mind that not all plants produce toxic smoke, we’ve checked through dozens of websites and forums and only came up with the few on our list – but if you’re not sure whether a particular plant might pose even a slight threat to your pet, better stay safe than sorry!

how to keep humidity up in chameleon cage

How to put live plants in chameleon cage?

Live plants give a tank a more naturalistic look and it is a great way to bring out your terrarium’s beauty.

They will also help to keep your chameleon’s tank clean by consuming the crickets that may have gotten away from your pet.

Putting live plants in a chameleon cage can be tricky, but there are some rules you need to follow before trying this yourself.

You can’t just use any old plant.

There are specific types of plants that work well with live chameleon cages and you have to do plenty of research before purchasing anything. Some examples include: Pothos, Dracaena, Philodendron, Spathiphyllum (Peace Lilies), Syngonium, Alocasia, Rhapis, Fittonia, Calathea, Anubias barteri var. nana are some of the best plants to use for this purpose.

When it comes to putting live plants in chameleon cages remember that humidity is your friend.

It may not seem like you need to worry about humidity in a chameleon cage because they’re adapted to dry climates but remember the plants require moisture too and if they become too dry they will die.

Luckily there are plenty of ways to keep your plant’s soil moist even inside of a tank so there isn’t any reason why you can’t have beautiful greenery inside of your pet’s habitat either.

You could also consider fake plants for chameleon cages.

Fake plants are usually made of plastic or silk and while some people worry that they look unrealistic, you can paint them with acrylic paints to make them look like real plants if you want! If you do decide on fake plants though make sure they are suitable for chameleons; there are separate rules on how to make fake plants safe for your pet’s habitat.

Some examples include the Jaxn Home Artificial Plant will not rust, rot, fade or ever need watering. It is an easy way to ensure that your plant doesn’t get wet and cause problems in the tank.

how to make a homemade chameleon cage

What Plants To Put In Chameleon Cage? (cre: chameleonforums)

Is bamboo safe for chameleons?

Yes, bamboo is safe for chameleons. In fact, some types of bamboo can be used as a food source for chameleons as well as a decoration in the vivarium. If you’re wondering what type of bamboo-this is, Amazon has a large selection available to purchase.

This common plant is not only native to places such as Asia and Australia but also found all over America without even knowing it. It’s got many names: Bamboo Palm-That’s if you call it by its proper name or simply just “Bamboo” if you want people who read your blog to think that you know plants and such things!

The Chinese call it the “Gift from God”. And boy do we need it!

The most important thing is to not confuse “true” Bamboo with Fake Bamboo, because fake bamboo is not good for chameleons at all. Other names for fake bamboo include “Dracaena” or even just simply “Bamboo Plant”. If you find that this type of bamboo is being sold by someone then don’t touch it with a barge pole as its leaves are extremely toxic if ingested by your beloved pet. In other words: Do Not Buy It!

Luckily though true bamboo does not have this same effect on the chameleon and can be bought from many stores such as amazon.

You may ask: “Why should I care if it’s fake or not? It seems that all bamboos will do just fine for my Chameleon?” The answer is quite simple; many of the fakes might look like the real thing, but they are definitely not as good as “The Real McCoy”, because to put it simply these plants lack the variety of color and composition that is true bamboo has.

how to keep humidity up for plants

Umbrella plant for chameleon

Commonly known as the umbrella tree or the dwarf schefflera, Schefflera arboricola is another plant you might have in a Chameleon enclosure. But keep in mind that it is not to be confused with Schefflera actinophylla because it can be toxic. The umbrella tree or dwarf schefflera are either loved or hated by people.

For one, you either love the way it looks or hates the fact that it can grow too fast if you let it. This is not to say that they are difficult to maintain because they definitely are not but you need to control their speed of growth.

Yes, this plant does grow fast and each shoot will become another umbrella tree anywhere from 1-2 feet high. It’s a very popular indoor plant because of its ability to adapt well even in low light conditions.

However with chameleons being kept as house pets, then at least part of their enclosure should be exposed outdoors so they can get natural sunlight for the most part of the day. The umbrella tree though needs a lot more than just low light conditions. You have to be willing to expose it to at least medium or high light conditions for most of the day.

Chameleons love this plant because of its height.

They can use it as a resting spot during the day and will feel safe at night if they are a little more shy compared to others.

This plant is life tolerant but this does not mean that you can let it grow wild. It’s best if you control its growth by pruning them once they have reached the desired height, usually up to 2 feet tall for an adults chameleon enclosure.

The umbrella tree likes moist soil so keep their potting mix damp at all times but only give them enough water so the excess won’t drain out from the bottom of their pot.

You also need to provide plenty of humidity and you can do this by putting a tray in its enclosure and filling it with pebbles. Next, spray their leaves regularly with water or place a humidifier nearby.

How to Raise Humidity in Chameleon Cage

What Plants To Put In Chameleon Cage? (cre: chameleonnews)

The umbrella tree is not only popular among chameleon enthusiasts but also to other pet owners because of its many benefits such as:

  1. It’s easy to grow whether in low light conditions or high light conditions, just take good care of them and they will be fine.
  2. They require very little maintenance so you won’t be spending much time caring for them. Just give them the right condition and let them be and they’ll reward your efforts by growing well and looking beautiful.
  3. It has air purifying qualities which makes it great for your chameleon’s enclosure.
  4. They are poisonous to cats and dogs so if you have these pets at home, they need not be concerned about being accidentally poisoned by the umbrella tree since it is considered safe for humans.
  5. It can improve the human respiratory system because of its great air-purifying qualities.

So if you’re looking to add some greenery into your pet chameleon’s enclosure then Schefflera Arbicola might just be what you’re looking for.

However, keep in mind that although this plant is generally safe for most pets, there are still some Schefflera species that are toxic to them so make sure their toxicity levels are known before one or several of these plants are added to their enclosure.

Is coleus safe for chameleons?

A few gardeners have reported that their chameleon has eaten coleus leaves.

This plant is in the Lamiaceae family which includes many types of mints, so it might be expected to have some level of toxicity. However, there are no toxicological studies on coleus for chameleons and other reptiles.

Medicinal uses for humans include treatment for diarrhea, stomach disorders, and skin problems.

Coleus has been used as a food item for humans in India, Japan, China, and Africa. Other plants in the Lamiaceae family, specifically Citrus hystrix (Indian Pennyroyal) have caused death or illness to humans if ingested by children so it seems reasonable to proceed with caution when offering this genus to our reptiles.


The best plants for a chameleon are those that require little or no light to grow. Chameleons need the most sunlight of any species in order to stay healthy, so if you have low levels of natural lighting, it’s important not to use too many plants with large leaves which will block out all your available sun!

Be sure also to keep an eye on your plant watering schedule as well – they can dry up quickly without sufficient water. If this is too much work and you’re looking for simpler options, live mosses make great decoration pieces for both inside and outside enclosures.

Further Reading:

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