Best Plants For Chameleons

Are you setting up your chameleon’s cage but confused on exactly what plants to use?

Do you want to make sure you choose the best and safest plants for your pet chameleon?

It’s one of the saddest situations I see when a new chameleon owner accidentally picks a poisonous or bad plant to put in the chameleon cage.

Then, the animal either gets sick or dies! 

The new owner swears off reptile pets and never gets to enjoy all the fun owning one of these oddly cute pets will give.

We’re here to help you avoid such a situation by letting you know about the best plants for chameleons.

The best plants for chameleons are non-toxic and don’t release seeds for the chameleon to accidentally ingest. These plants also oxygenate the air, keeping it fresh and reduces the risk of upper respiratory infections. They also increase the relative humidity in the air. Our picks for the best plants are:

Read on for more details about why you should plants, what you need to look for in plants, and our review of the best ones for your reptile pet.

Why Use Plants In A Chameleon Cage?

Are plants really necessary in a chameleon’s cage? Absolutely!

Whether real or fake, plants serve essential purposes, and you need to have a good setup for your pet.

Here are the three most important ones.

Climbing

Chameleons are arboreal creatures.

This means they spend most of their lives up in the trees or low foliage.

This makes sense, given their natural habitat of tropical forests in Africa.

Their captive habitat needs to reflect this. 

To this end, plants are essential for providing surfaces for the chameleon to climb and live on.

Without these, your chameleon will never feel comfortable or at ease.

This stress will shorten their life spans quite a bit.

Hiding

Chameleons are shy and solitary creatures.

Even in the wild, they prefer to spend their time hiding in the leaves and branches of their homes.

The cover provides them protection from predators and allows them to sneak up on insects with their lightning-quick tongues.

This need to hide and desire for cover is built into their DNA at this point.

Captive-bred chameleons will still have this hiding instinct inside them.

For the reptiles, they need the space to hide and feel safe, and plants provide this for them.

Real or fake, chameleons are drawn to cover.

As with climbing, a failure to provide this cover increases stress and shortens life spans.

Drinking

Chameleons don’t drink as other animals do.

If you put a water dish in their cage, they most likely won’t even notice it or recognize it as water to drink.

In the wild, chameleons drink water droplets off of leaves and absorb water through their skin during the frequency rain showers.

This is just how they’ve evolved to intake water.

But without plants, they won’t know how to drink.

Even with misting, without leaves to gather droplets, the chameleons are in danger of becoming severely dehydrated.

Learn more about the best misting systems for chameleons.

Live Plants Vs. Fake Plants

Now you know why they need plants, but you may ask:

Why even use live plants? Aren’t fake ones good enough?

Yes, I suppose it won’t hurt your chameleon to have only fake plants.

But your pet will be missing out on some awesome benefits of using plants.

Here are three reasons you should use real plants.

Fake plants won’t cover these areas at all.

Humidity

Chameleons must have higher humidity in their cages.

A good goal for all chameleon species is between 50-75% relative humidity in their cages.

Low humidity leads to respiratory and shedding problems, which cause injuries and illness.

Real plants retain moisture and increase the amount of water in the air.

With real plants, misting twice per day will usually keep the humidity up to the goal percentage.

With only fake plants, you may need to add more mistings during the day.

The danger with too many meetings is an increase in the chance for mold.

Real plants reduce this risk.

Clean Air

Chameleons need fresh air.

Their natural forest environments have very clean air, free of pollutants.

Your home, as good as it is, doesn’t compare to the fresh air of the outdoors.

Too many pollutants increase the risk of disease.

But real plants are nature’s filters.

They take in carbon dioxide and clean the air before putting it back out into breathable form again.

Fake plants don’t do this at all.

Oxygenation

A third important purpose of real plants is an increase in the oxygen level of the air in and around the cage.

Yes, the plants clean the air as we mentioned above, but they also increase the amount of oxygen in the air.

More oxygen allows the body (anyone’s body, but especially the little reptiles’) to function healthier and more effectively.

Oxygen levels in the blood are key to energy levels, health, and a strong immune system.

Chameleons, in general, are more likely to get sick compared to other reptiles, so a boosted immune system and health will make your life as an owner much less stressful.

A mix of real and fake plants are fine.

Usually, fake vines are a good choice for linking the real plants together for the chameleon to climb on.

What To Look For In The Best Live Plants For Chameleons

This section is our quick guide on what to look for in plants you want to put in your chameleon habitat.

Use this information to help you when we look at the reviews below.

Check out the best chameleon cages.

Non-Toxic

The first and most obvious element to look for is the toxicity of the plant.

While some animals may survive or be immune to contact with poisonous or toxic natured plants, the chameleon is a fragile creature.

Research about any plant you want to put in your chameleon’s cage to see if it excretes any substantial poison, toxin, or even oils.

This may, at best, irritate the chameleon’s skin, or, at worst, cause injury or death.

Or an easier option may be to pick from our list of safe and best plants.

Climbable

Remember, one of the main reasons to include plants in a chameleon’s habitat is to give it something to climb on.

Not every plant is as good for climbing as others.

Some plants, such as small trees, have stronger branches which can bear the weight of heavier chameleons such as the veiled chameleon or panther chameleon.

These branches are exactly why small trees make the best plants for veiled chameleons are others like them.

Smaller chameleon pets, such as the Jackson’s chameleon, won’t have as much of a problem climbing on smaller plants.

It’s also a good idea to have a mix of leafy and tree plants.

More leaves generally mean more oxygen.

Consider what your chameleon will need when fully grown.

Easy To Care For

Chameleons aren’t hard to care for, but they still take some time and effort.

You may not also want to worry about keeping a plant alive on top of the sensitive reptile.

Look at how sensitive the plant is and what it takes to keep it healthy.

This will help you determine if the plant is right for you.

Most plants won’t need much more than water and UVB.

Fortunately, they’ll likely already get enough from the water and UVB you need to give the chameleon.

But there are those with special temperature needs or other pruning to be kept healthy.

It’s a lot to keep track of and think about.

We’ll help you by discussing such considerations in the reviews below.

Also, the plants we picked will all do well in the same environment as your chameleon.

No Seeds

This is a simple but important element to think about.

A lot of folks forget about this.

The plants shouldn’t give off a lot of little seeds.

Not only is it a pain to clean up, but it also offers a health risk for your reptile friends.

Chams don’t usually accidentally eat substrate or seeds when eating their crickets, but it does happen, especially when the seeds are little and light.

Their digestive systems aren’t meant for this.

Their stomachs will get upset or even have more serious problems.

Size

The size of the plant is important to consider as well.

How big does the plant grow?

Will it fit into your cage when fully grown?

You’re always going to have to do some trimming to keep the plant at a manageable size, but you don’t want to be fighting the plant constantly.

Keep in mind; we recommend a cage 2′ feet (0.61 m) long, 2′ feet (0.61 m) wide, and 4′ feet (1.22 m) tall when picking plants.

A mixture of tall, medium and short plants would be a good idea.

Review Of The Best Plants For Chameleons

best plants for chameleons

Here is the review of each of our picks for the best plants for chameleons.

In this section, you’ll hear why we like them for a chameleon habitat as well as the pros and cons to help you decide which is the best for your needs.

Note: All plants on this list are completely safe for chameleons, so we won’t mention this in each review.

Weeping Fig/Benjamin Fig

Wintergreen Weeping Fig Tree - Ficus - Great...
  • Excellent indoor tree for low light areas in the home.
  • Trim as needed.
  • Easy to grow.

The Benjamin Fig or Weeping Fig is a type of ficus perfect for a chameleon.

They provide a leafy expanse good for hiding while still having firm branches for climbing.

For growth, they’ll eventually grow to fill out your cage but not quickly, and they’re easy to trim.

They even match the jungle-y look you may want in your cage.

They clean air well and do a good job of keeping the air moist.

The weeping fig may be the best overall plant for the chameleon to enjoy.

It tends to lose leaves if you move it too much, and this plant will do best if the cage is near a window where it can get some natural sunlight.

Pros For This Plant:

  • Good size for the cage
  • Firm stems for climbing
  • Nice coverage for hiding
  • Cleans air well

Cons For This Plant:

  • Loses leaves when moved
  • Needs a little natural sunlight

Golden Pothos

Golden Devil's Ivy Pothos 4" Pot 3 pack Very Easy...
  • Homegrown by jmbamboo
  • Great gift for the home, apartment, office, dorm or den
  • Likes indirect light

The Golden Pothos is a common household and a good option for chameleons.

The leaves provide good coverage, and the plant itself is extremely durable.

It only needs indirect sunlight and the same water you give when you mist the chameleon.

It will do a good job of cleaning the air and providing extra oxygen.

The plant itself doesn’t grow as tall, but the leaves will grow farther out over time.

This may not be the plant for you if you have a large chameleon, but it is a fun supplement to a larger chameleon cage.

The humidity coming from this plant seems to be more than other plants on the list, so if you have a dry environment, this one can help.

Pros For This Plant:

  • Very durable plant
  • Easy to care for
  • Provides good coverage for hiding
  • Fits in with normal chameleon temp, water, and light needs

Cons For This Plant:

  • Not as tall or good for climbing

Rubber Tree

Burgundy Rubber Tree Plant - Ficus - an Old...
  • Easy to grow house plant
  • Great for the house, apartment, office or dorm
  • Provide bright, indirect or artificial light

The rubber tree is one of the most popular plants for keeping in chameleon cages.

This tree starts small but can grow up to 50′ feet tall if left untrimmed.

The branches and leaves aren’t hard to keep trimmed down to the right size.

This plant handles almost anything without getting damaged or unhealthy.

It doesn’t need much light or water, but it won’t die if it does.

The branches will provide a good place to climb, and the leaves provide a good place to hide.

For air cleaning properties and humidity, it doesn’t do as well as some other plants on the list, but it’s still a live plant and does much to help.

Pros For This Plant:

  • Grows large
  • Good for climbing and hiding
  • Easy to care for

Cons For This Plant:

  • Not as much air cleaning
  • Not as much humidity

Yucca

Yucca root is a common supplement, but it also works well in chameleon cages.

The plant has a thick and sturdy trunk for great climbing.

The spiky leaves on the top of the plant have a unique look and still clean the air well, although the plant itself doesn’t offer as much cover for hiding.

This plant can grow quite tall, and trimming it is a little difficult, but it’s doable. 

The sunlight needed will be just fine with the chameleon.

Too much direct sunlight is problematic, but the fake UVB light used in cages will do fine.

The main care concern with this plant is how it handles water.

The plant retains a lot of water but gets overwatered easily.

You should use a pot with holes to allow the water to drain instead of getting stuck in the soil.

Pros For This Plant:

  • Interesting look
  • Great stems for climbing
  • Grows big

Cons For This Plant:

  • Doesn’t like too much water

Dragon Tree

Costa Farms Dracaena Marginata Magenta Madagascar...
  • Dracaena Marginata (Madagascar Dragon Tree) has a gorgeous head of narrow, bright green leaves edged with red or pink...
  • Ships in a black grower's pot; place in planter of choice. Water when soil feels dry; don't allow to sit in water, drain any...
  • Plant height at shipping measures approximately 44-inches tall, measured from bottom of the pot to top of the plant. Grow...

The Dragon Tree is a common plant in Madagascar, which is where many chameleons come from.

As such, it’s a good fit for the reptiles.

The plant is fairly easy to care for.

Using the same misting you use for your chameleon is just fine.

This plant does need more light than the chameleon does, so you’ll need to watch it or move it out near sunlight periodically.

These plants do an excellent job of purifying the air and keeping the humidity up.

The foliage is good for the chameleons to hide in, and they also have firm stems for climbing in.

Pros For This Plant:

  • Natural to the chameleon’s environment
  • Great for climbing and hiding
  • Keeps humidity up

Cons For This Plant:

  • Needs extra sunlight

Jade Plant

Shop Succulents | Good Luck Collection | Hand...
  • INCLUDED IN PURCHASE | (1) jade succulent in 4" pot Each plant may vary from pictures shown as plants are hand selected based...
  • WATERING NEEDS | Succulents are very sensitive to overwatering, and damp soil can cause root rot Dry out soil completely...
  • FERTILIZING NEEDS | Fertilize every two to four weeks during spring and summer Withhold fertilizer during the fall and winter...

Jade plants are a little different from others on the list.

It’s a succulent plant.

Instead of a tree or larger plant, they won’t grow large or provide much space to climb on for the chameleon.

However, the coverage is fine for some to take shelter in.

Small chameleons will enjoy climbing on this.

The benefits of the succulents include a big addition to the humidity of the cage.

They absorb and release water well.

Succulents like the Jade Plant are also extremely easy to care for.

They survive in almost any setting, including the chameleon cage.

Pros For This Plant:

  • Very tough
  • Offers great air cleaning
  • Add to the humidity

Cons For This Plant:

  • Small, not good for climbing

Conclusion

We hope you found this review of the best plants for chameleons helpful.

Any of these (or a combination) will make a great addition to your pet’s cage.

Now you know about these options; it’s up to you to pick one or more and give them a shot.

Your pet will thank you for the fresh air and wild plant life.

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