Top 5 Live Plants for Tropical Bio-Active Enclosures

by Luke Tansley on in Amphibians Geckos Products

Bio-active terrariums have been a great success and are now as common as traditional setups in our store. Most of the customers that come to our Reptile Centre will leave with the materials to match our jungle themed gecko and frog terrariums. The only part that can be a bit of a struggle is selecting which live plants are best. Here is our top 5 list for tall glass gecko and frog enclosures.

Bromeliads –

Bromeliads are quite large and very colourful additions to a terrarium and are normally used as a centrepiece. They are particularly popular with smaller tree frogs like the grey or green tree frog as they form small pools in their leaves. They are epiphytic meaning that they can be attached to branches or rock decorations and grown above ground level which is great in very large enclosures. They love bright light but can dry out quite easily if kept below a basking bulb so we would normally have them in the lower half of the enclosure or towards the cooler side. The parent plant may die after blooming but it should produce more and spread around the enclosure. Once fully integrated they are stunning plants.

Weeping Fig (Ficus benjami) –

Ficus benjami is our favourite plant for filling space in a tall enclosure. It stays quite straight and grows very tall without spreading out too much. Its structural branches can be strong enough to support very small arboreal species but we find that they normally rest on the glass around this plant using it as partial cover. It’s small and numerous leaves are perfect for catching water in the morning spray making it a great plant for the animal to drink from. Typically we would situate this plant a couple of inches from each wall in one of the back corners to cover that space. If you have any tubing in the enclosure for a DIY waterfall, external filter or misting system this plant would be perfect to disguise them. This plant will drop its leaves if it gets too dry so make sure to pray it in the morning and try to keep it away from your heating equipment.

Devils Ivy (Epipremnum Aurem) –

Devils Ivy is notoriously hard to kill and will quickly spread to cover as much space as you will allow it to. It has large leaves which are great for catching water or supporting small frogs. This ivy will climb backgrounds and decor but we have found that it first blankets a lot of space on the floor. If you would prefer it to follow a distinct path you can tie it stem in position to guide it’s growth then remove the ties once the next stem has rooted into place. This is a perfect plant a for first time keeper as it is really easy to keep and can provide a lot of value for money over time. This plant does best in a moist environment with a lot of humidity and light. We often add moss to the bedding around this plant to absorb more moisture and give it the best chance.

Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes sp.) –

Polka dot plants are small self-contained colourful plants and are a brilliant way to add contrast to a terrarium. They are commonly supplied in white pink or red and each plant tends to have two colours on the leaf. They don’t grow particularly large and won’t root particularly deep so they can be supported onto your background as long as you provide enough soil. This plant doesn’t like a lot of direct light so it is best to keep them on the ground, below and around your decor or in the cool and shaded side of your enclosure. They like humidity and moist soil but they will rot if they get waterlogged so it is important to have a drainage layer before planting Hypoestes.

Earth Star (Cryptanthus sp.) –

Earth stars are a species of ground-dwelling bromeliad which grow a little differently to the large colourful bromeliads you may be used to. They prefer damp conditions and some shade to grow well. These plants are very tough and sturdy once established, they will form large root systems to lock themselves in place. This makes them perfect for most enclosures are they won’t suffer if they are trampled a bit and they aren’t at risk of being uprooted by your cleaner crew.

For more advice on how best to plant your enclosure or just general advise on how best to look after your pet please contact us on 01604753823, by email at or through our Facebook page.

About Luke Tansley

Luke works within the customer service department at At home he keeps hognose snakes, bearded dragons and kingsnakes.