Correctly housing a chameleon means providing them with plenty of lush greenery to climb on and interact with.
While you certainly have the option of using fake plants for these delightful arboreal lizards, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best natural plants for chameleon enclosures.
These are attractive, easy to maintain, and they’ll also help keep the humidity within your pet’s natural-looking habitat.
Pothos (Devil’s Ivy)
A classic for many reptile enclosures, golden pothos vines (also known as Devil’s Ivy or, less commonly, their Latin name, Epipremnum aureum) is a wonderful addition to a chameleon habitat.
They’re hardy plants and grow quite quickly.
Plus, they’re easy to care for, even if you don’t naturally have a green thumb!
These long, leafy vines provide lots of leaf cover and plenty of good hiding spots for shy, reserved lizards like chameleons.
Interestingly, while pothos is considered toxic if eaten in large amounts to many animals, they are entirely safe for chameleons if yours happens to end up munching on a few of the leaves.
Many reptile owners opt to simply set up their golden pothos towards the bottom of their chameleon enclosures, ideally around the sides of the enclosure, and allow the vines to slowly creep upward over time and become one of the main centerpieces of the habitat.
As a reasonably inexpensive trailing plant, the golden pothos is perfect for cheaply filling up space in your chameleon’s habitat.
They thrive in a wide range of temperatures—from 60 to 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C)—and grow well in low and high lighting conditions.
If you want ivy or vines without the hassle of keeping live ones, check out the best artificial vines for chameleons.
Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola)
Also sometimes known as the dwarf umbrella tree, this plant is excellent for chameleon enclosures as a centerpiece as it has large, broad, sturdy leaves.
It’s also flexible and easy to bend and shape to grow in whatever direction you want to better suit your chameleon’s enclosure setup.
The dwarf umbrella tree is especially great for providing spaces for your chameleon to drink water droplets from its leaves.
Remember, chameleons won’t drink free-standing water from a dish, so having plenty of plants with large leaves for you to mist regularly is critical to your pet’s hydration and health.
Another perk to keeping these relatively low-maintenance plants in your chameleon’s enclosure is that they don’t need a lot of light each day to thrive.
Around four to five hours of indirect, filtered light per day with regular misting and moderate watering is enough to properly maintain the dwarf umbrella tree.
While the Schefflera arboricola plant can grow up to 6’ feet tall, with regular pruning, it’s easy to keep to a small size of 12 to 24” inches or so in height.
If you opt for this particular plant, it’s essential to keep in mind not to confuse it with a very similar species, the Schefflera actinophylla, the Australian umbrella tree, as it is moderately toxic to most animals.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
True to its name, the spider plant, or Chlorophytum comosum, has long, thin, sturdy leaves which explode outwards from its central trunk.
While they aren’t quite large enough to be a centerpiece and won’t cling to walls like vines, spider plants are excellent for filling up some space in your chameleon’s habitat reasonably inexpensively.
They’re also quite attractive and unique to look at, as their foliage has a very unique, pointy appearance compared to some of the more broad, round leaves present on many of the other plants commonly kept in chameleon enclosures.
In addition, the spider plant is another great choice for novice plant keepers, as they are pretty low-maintenance and grow well in varied conditions.
However, they fare especially well under bright lighting, preferably direct sunlight, when watered once a week or so.
It’s OK to allow the soil to dry a bit in between waterings, too, as spider plants are very hardy.
While your chameleon likely won’t be able to climb on the spider plant (unless they’re a tiny variety of chameleon), they will immensely enjoy using it as plant cover and sipping water droplets off of its long, thin leaves.
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
If you want to add some pops of color to your chameleon’s enclosure aside from the usual greens and browns, look no further than the vibrant croton plant.
These little shrubs have massive, irregularly shaped leaves splattered with a rainbow of red, orange, yellow, green, and auburn.
Amazingly, these plants can grow to heights of over 8’ feet tall in their natural habitat!
Thankfully, you’ll easily be able to keep the croton plant’s growth under control with semi-regular pruning.
Since the croton is a tropical plant, it fares exceptionally well in hot, humid chameleon enclosures.
It’s best to place this plant towards the front of the cage, as it requires at least six to eight hours of bright, direct light per day to thrive and produce its signature bright coloration.
Use it as a centerpiece in the enclosure for best results.
As far as watering goes, the croton’s needs are nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to most tropical plants suited for chameleon tanks.
Water it regularly to keep it moist, and don’t allow the soil to dry out for long.
Polka-Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
We wanted to include a wide range of colorful plants on this list to truly make chameleon enclosures look great and be comfortable and safe for your pet.
Polka-dot plants make excellent filler plants, and they add beautiful pops of bright pink and green to your chameleon’s habitat.
These tiny shrub-like plants aren’t sturdy enough for climbing on, but their large, broad leaves provide great plant cover and an excellent spot for your pet to lick water droplets from as they please.
They do pretty well in hot and humid environments, making them perfect candidates for a chameleon enclosure.
As far as care goes, they’re a bit higher-maintenance than some of the others on this list, but we think it’s worth it for such a beautiful, colorful plant.
They need their soil to be consistently moist.
They require relatively bright, direct lighting to produce their vibrant coloring, and you’ll need to trim them pretty regularly to keep them from becoming overgrown and taking over the enclosure.
Still, there’s nothing quite like those pink and green leaves if you want a truly unique and stunning habitat for your pet.
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
The weeping fig is one of the most commonly used centerpiece plants for chameleon habitats, and many good reasons.
It’s commonly sold at home and garden shops at a reasonable price and is an extremely hardy, reasonably easy to care for plant.
With its bright green, waxy leaves, the weeping fig provides lots of plant cover if you set it up towards the center of your pet’s enclosure.
Its trunk is somewhat thin yet surprisingly sturdy, so it’s easy for chameleons to grab onto, climb up, and explore its leafage.
While it isn’t a particularly exotic or eye-catching plant, it’s certainly worth using in your pet’s habitat as one of its main centerpieces.
Keep in mind it will need at least six hours of filtered light daily; never set it up around or orient it towards bright, direct light, as this will burn its leaves.
If you notice any leaves falling off, it’s probably getting too much light!
Watering a weeping fig is, fortunately, a lot simpler than its lighting requirements.
Simply water it regularly, avoid overwatering, and allow the top layer of soil to dry almost completely in between waterings.
Money Tree/Guiana Chestnut (Pachira aquatica)
You have a wide range of options when it comes to centerpiece plants, but we love the money tree, also known as Pachira aquatica or the Guiana chestnut, for its wide, sturdy, bright green leaves.
This tropical plant fares extremely well in warm, humid chameleon enclosures, and chameleons love it for its abundant leaf cover and sturdy branches.
It’s native to hot, moist swamplands in Central and South America, so it will fit right in with your pet’s habitat’s warm, wet conditions.
One thing to keep in mind with this plant, like with most centerpiece plants, is it can grow to a considerable size and height.
If you don’t prune it regularly and keep its growth in check, it’ll quickly grow to over 5’ feet tall!
Thankfully, trimming the plant is relatively easy, and it will maintain its small size depending on the size of the enclosure it’s kept in.
Caring for the money tree is also quite simple, as it already thrives in tropical conditions.
It does best in around 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C) and humidity of at least 50%.
Keep its soil damp, water it regularly, and keep it near bright yet indirect lighting for best results!
Wandering Jew/Inchplant (Tradescantia zebrina)
The inchplant, typically referred to as the wandering jew, is another excellent accent plant for your chameleon’s enclosure if you want something unique and vibrant to help fill up extra space.
Plus, they grow very quickly, so they’ll fill up the space fast!
With its bright purple and varying shades of green leaves, the wandering jew looks great and is fairly easy to care for, even for beginners.
It gets its “wandering” name from how easy it can grow and adapt to various environments, even the hot, humid settings associated with chameleon enclosures.
As far as care goes, these plants prefer bright yet indirect lighting at all times and semi-regular watering once or twice per week.
Allow its soil to become completely dry between waterings, and avoid pouring water directly onto the plant to prevent root rot.
Mist its leaves regularly so your chameleon can lick up any water droplets they find when they become thirsty.
Even though its branches aren’t particularly sturdy, the wandering jew’s broad, dense leaves make great, inconspicuous hiding spots for more shy chameleons.
This one is a common choice for chameleon enclosures for obvious reasons!
Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco)
The dragon tree’s leaves look a bit like the spider plant’s with more length and height.
Many great dracaena species are ideal for chameleon enclosures, but we love this one as a centerpiece plant for its unique-looking foliage and sturdy, thick trunk.
Dragon trees are very drought-tolerant, hardy, and resilient, so they will be fine if you happen to forget watering them every once in a while or aren’t particularly skilled at caring for plants.
Overwatering presents more of a danger to these plants than under-watering!
When it comes to caring for a dragon tree, they’re not very picky or demanding plants.
While they do best in fairly bright lighting, they are just as happy under dim lighting too.
This means you’re fine to place it just about wherever you wish in your chameleon’s habitat without worrying about it potentially drying out or dying.
As far as watering goes, semi-regular watering is plenty for the dragon tree.
Like we mentioned earlier, you want to avoid overwatering it, so be sure to allow the top layer of soil to dry out completely before watering it again.
If you’re worried about how much water you need for this plant, just look at its leaf coloration.
If its leaves are beginning to turn brown, you’re probably overwatering.
On the other hand, if the leaves turn yellow or white, you’re not watering it enough.
It’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind if you’re not especially experienced with maintaining and caring for plants.
Rubber Tree (Hevea brasiliensis)
Yet another low-maintenance plant perfect for chameleon cages is the popular rubber tree, sometimes known as the rubber fig or rubber plant.
It’s native to tropical regions of South America, so it’s perfectly suited for the warm, humid conditions in your chameleon’s habitat.
Named for its sticky sap used to create rubber products, the rubber tree has large, oval-shaped, waxy leaves that are extremely sturdy and tolerant of various conditions.
They will become quite tall if they are allowed to grow (over 6’ feet tall!), but if kept in your chameleon’s enclosure and trimmed regularly, you won’t need to worry about your rubber tree taking over your home.
These plants fare best when placed near bright, indirect light to keep their leaves vibrant and glossy.
Keep it away from any basking bulbs, as the direct, hot light is too intense for them.
When watering your rubber tree, be sure to allow the top layer of soil to dry out almost completely before rewatering.
Rubber trees are easy to care for, especially because they give plenty of cues when they aren’t doing well.
If you notice your rubber tree shedding leaves, you’re likely not watering it enough.
If it begins to slump and its leaves shrivel, it isn’t getting enough light.
You’re not going to get much brighter, more lush green leafage than the rubber tree!
Its leaves are incredibly vibrant and lovely to look at, especially if you use this as a centerpiece or even an accent within your pet’s enclosure.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis)
We just cannot resist colorful plants, and the hibiscus is perhaps one of the most vibrantly colored plants you’ll find in a chameleon enclosure.
While it’s most known for its large, tropical-looking flowers of varying pink, orange, and red shades, its broad leaves are also well suited to providing plant cover.
Another great thing about this plant is its flowers are safe for chameleons to eat, and most individuals love munching on them from time to time!
Plus, since water droplets cling to its leaves and flowers very easily, they provide plenty of hydration to your pet’s diet.
Amazingly, these bush-like plants are capable of growing to 15’+ feet!
However, like most plants on this list, the hibiscus will easily adapt to whatever container or enclosure it is housed in.
Although these plants are beautiful and look incredible in any chameleon enclosure setup, you should be aware they are a bit more tricky to care for and maintain properly than most of the other plants on our list here.
They need lots of bright, direct light to produce their brightly colored flowers and leaves, and they need very frequent watering when their flowers begin to bloom.
Still, if you’re up to a bit of a challenge in exchange for a delightful plant your chameleon will love, we highly recommend hibiscus plants!
They do quite well in warm, humid environments, and they look great alongside some of the other colorful plants on this list, like the croton or polka-dot plant.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Although ferns, in general, don’t provide much in the way of surfaces for your chameleon to climb on, their extremely dense leaves offer well-covered hiding spots for your shy, reserved lizard to seek out when they don’t want to be on display.
Providing adequate plant cover is crucial to preventing your chameleon from becoming stressed out.
The Boston fern’s foliage is so dense that your pet will always feel safe and comfortable lurking underneath.
Their small, light green leaves also hold water droplets well, so your pet will be able to sip water comfortably without feeling anxious or exposed.
The Boston fern is native to many warm, humid areas, such as Central and South America, South Florida, and even Polynesia and Africa!
This means it’ll be right at home in your chameleon’s tropical habitat.
They like to climb, so feel free to encourage them to slowly creep up the walls and surfaces of the enclosure.
Caring for the Boston fern is also quite simple, though you’ll need to ensure its soil is always kept damp.
Thankfully, this won’t be much of an issue in a chameleon cage, though you’ll still need to check on it semi-regularly to keep it from becoming too dry.
They fare best under indirect, medium light, so keep them away from any basking bulbs.
Grape Ivy (Cissus rhombifolia)
The grape ivy is another ideal plant if you want something vine-like to grow along the walls and surfaces of your chameleon’s habitat.
They fill space very well and grow quickly, so they’ll fill out any space in the enclosure in mere weeks.
Grape ivy is a pretty nondescript-looking plant, though its dense, uniquely shaped leaves complement some of the more broad and round leaf shapes of some of the other plants on this list.
While your chameleon won’t be able to climb on its vines directly, it will enjoy lapping up water droplets that frequently collect on its many dense leaves.
Caring for grape ivy is pretty simple, even for beginners, too!
It doesn’t need much light, though it will tolerate moderate and bright lighting just as well. Its soil should be kept moist at all times, though it’s fine if the top inch or so dries out a bit in between waterings.
Just be sure not to overwater this plant!
Though it isn’t very picky about its conditions, grape ivy tends to shed leaves quickly if overwatered.
These plants look great when combined with other creeping vine-like plants, like the earlier golden pothos.
Parlor Palm (Chamaedora elegans)
The parlor palm, sometimes referred to as the neanthe bella palm, works great either as a centerpiece or as an accent plant in a chameleon cage, and it thrives extremely well in tropical, humid conditions.
Interestingly, they more closely resemble ferns than a typical palm, and they are on the smaller side like ferns, too.
Perhaps the parlor palm’s best quality is its versatility.
It provides great foliage cover because its leaves are thin yet very densely clustered together. But this isn’t all it’s good for–far from it!
Chameleons also really enjoy these plants for hydration, as their long, thin leaves catch water droplets that collect neatly on their tips.
Plus, since parlor palms have decently hardy, thick stems, your pet will be able to scale it with ease, reaching from branch to branch to sip water from the leaves.
Simply mist the leaves directly and watch as the droplets pool up at the ends.
Caring for the parlor palm is also simple enough for beginners and experts alike.
They thrive in low light but also do just fine under bright, filtered light, so regardless of where you set it up in your chameleon’s habitat, the parlor palm will grow happily (albeit slowly) for months and potentially even years to come.
Watering is also quite simple when it comes to the parlor palm.
Keep the soil moist at all times, but allow it to dry out a bit if you notice any leaves beginning to turn brown.
It’s okay to allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out a bit if you’ve overwatered it recently; it’ll bounce back in no time!
The bromeliad is a sturdy, beautiful flowering plant commonly used in chameleon enclosures thanks to its colorful appearance and hardy leaves, which are strong enough for your pet to climb on as they please.
It’s known for its tall, vibrant, stalk-like flower, which grows upward from its leaves, which looks a bit like the top of a pineapple.
These attractive, safe plants can grow to up to 5’ feet or more, though they will stay fairly small depending on the size of your chameleon’s enclosure.
They are easy to trim as they grow very slowly, so they won’t get out of control if you forget to prune them every once in a while.
When it comes to caring for the bromeliad, water and lighting requirements are fairly minimal.
They fare well in the warm, humid conditions typical of chameleon enclosures, though they best under bright, indirect lighting.
It’s best to place these near your basking bulbs, but not too close to where it’s directly under harsh heat lamps or any other bright lights.
Bromeliads need to be kept moist, so be sure to water them regularly.
Thankfully, bromeliads absorb and store large amounts of water very easily, so you’ll typically only need to water it once or twice per week.
It helps to have proper drainage in your chameleon enclosure, so the plant’s roots don’t become soggy, as this will cause its roots and crown to rot over time.
Although it takes quite a while for it to bloom, it’s certainly worth it when its vibrant red, yellow, and orange flowers emerge from the center of its crown.
It’s perfectly safe if your pet happens to munch on it from time to time, too!
Wax Begonia (Semperflorens cultorum)
Thanks to its hardy and versatile nature, this attractive flowering plant is extremely popular for a wide range of growth settings and conditions.
It’s a short, shrub-like plant with lots of brightly colored pink, orange, white, and sometimes red flowers, so don’t be surprised if your chameleon takes a liking to munch on them.
Wax begonias need lots of heat and prefer bright, filtered light, though they do pretty well in lower lighting as well.
Feel free to place these wherever you’d like in your chameleon’s enclosure!
They can grow to around 2’ feet tall, though they will stay at whatever size they are restricted to within your pet’s cage with a bit of regular pruning.
Keep the wax begonia’s soil moist but not too wet or oversaturated.
It’s fine to allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out a little in between waterings, but if you notice the plant shedding leaves or any flowers beginning to wilt, you’re likely not watering it enough.
Thankfully, these plants are quite forgiving and hardy, so they’ll bounce back quickly once rewatered properly.
Wax begonias are also versatile because they work well as accent plants or even small centerpieces when planted alongside other plants of varying sizes.
You have plenty of options when it comes to where you plant them in your chameleon’s habitat.
China Doll Plant (Radermachera sinica)
These handsome little plants somewhere between a shrub and a tree are sometimes also known as serpent or emerald trees.
They aren’t quite as commonly used in chameleon enclosures as some of the others on this list, as they’re a bit pickier with their preferred conditions, but they’re still worth mentioning as they look great and provide lots of dense plant cover for your pet.
Even though the China doll plant is somewhat tricky to care for if you’re a novice when it comes to plant keeping, they’re certainly worth the effort, as they grow fairly slowly and stay quite small for the entirety of their life if kept in your chameleon’s enclosure.
They look great, too, with their dense, bright green leaves and thin branches, which become denser towards the main “trunk” of the plant.
The China doll plant needs lots of bright yet indirect lighting for at least around five hours per day, so be sure you position it somewhere in your chameleon’s enclosure where it’ll get adequate lighting to thrive.
They enjoy warm, humid temperatures of around 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C) or so, meaning they’ll fit in well with your chameleon’s other plants.
You’ll need to keep your China doll plant’s soil moist at all times, yet be sure it also has proper drainage to prevent water from collecting at its base and causing its roots to rot.
Avoid overwatering, as this will also contribute to root rot.
Despite its sort of tricky initial setup conditions, the China doll plant does well once you’ve made it comfortable.
Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
While many plants on this list don’t provide much in the way of vertical climbing space, the corn plant’s huge, thick trunk is ideal for your chameleon to climb on.
Despite its name, it doesn’t produce corn; its name comes from its leaves, which look like corn husks.
One of the best things about these plants is they are extremely hardy and forgiving, so they make great centerpiece plants if you’re worried about not being able to care for something larger and more demanding.
They are very drought tolerant, too, so they’ll be fine if you occasionally forget to water them.
You’ll need to keep the corn plant’s soil fairly moist most of the time, but it’s okay to let it dry out a bit in between waterings.
This plant gives clear cues when it isn’t doing well, so if you notice its leaves starting to turn brown, just add more water, and it’ll bounce back fairly quickly.
The corn plant isn’t very picky about its lighting, either, though it prefers indirect, bright lighting.
If you choose to implement it in your pet’s habitat, this unique-looking plant will be loved by both you and your chameleon.