15 Best Plants For Chameleon Enclosures (The Perfect Habitat)

Chameleons are exotic reptiles and have their own quirks with it comes to care requirements. One of those requirements is what plants they’re allowed to have in their enclosure.

In this article, I am going to go in-depth about the 15 best plants to include in your Chameleon enclosure setup.

Quickview 15 Best Plants For Chameleon Enclosures
Golden PothosWeeping FigHibiscus Plant
Dracaena CompactaJade PlantSchefflera Tree
Grape IvyYucca PlantSpider Plant
BromeliadsWax BegoniaBoston Fern
NasturtiumsRubber FigAreca Palm

15 Best Plants For Chameleon Enclosures

Plants, for the most part, are lovely to look at. However, when it comes to eating or touching some species of plants they can be dangerous or even deadly. 

This is why I have compiled this list of the 15 best and safest plants to place into your Chameleon enclosure.

Golden Pothos

The Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), also known as the Devil’s Ivy, isn’t actually an Ivy at all. It got the name due to its resilient nature.

This plant is great for Chameleons, because not only can it use its large leaves to seek cover under, but it’s able to eat it without any problems.

Another perk of the Golden Pothos is its air purifying abilities, keeping a constant flow of fresh air circulation in the enclosure.

Care Requirements: Although they’re resilient, this doesn’t mean you can completely neglect them. They prefer to be kept on the dry side, so only require watering once the soil is dry to the touch. 

Weeping Fig

The Weeping fig is another resilient and low-maintenance plant for your Chameleon enclosure. They’re a part of the Ficus family and are possibly better known as the Benjamin fig (Ficus Benjamina)

One of the reasons these plants are great for Chameleons is because of the shape of the leaves. Water droplets will run down them, allowing your Chameleon to lap them up when it’s thirsty.

Care Requirements: Unlike the Golden Pothos, these plants prefer to be on the more moist side, so I recommend placing them higher in the enclosure to allow the humidity to do its work in keeping these plants hydrated.

Hibiscus Plant

The Hibiscus plant (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) provides a beautiful aesthetic to your Chameleon enclosure, when in bloom it produces lovely pink and red flowers. You’ll be able to bear witness to your Chameleon changing its colors when coming into contact with this plant.

Hibiscus plants also double up as a delicious snack for your Chameleon to eat as it goes about its day.

Care Requirements: You’ll want to water your Hibiscus generously, however, wait until the surface of the soil is completely dried out before watering again. The Hibiscus can grow quite tall so to keep it maintained, I recommend cutting it back once a year, almost to the base of the plant.

Dracaena Compacta

The Dracaena Compacta otherwise known as the Compact Dragon Tree, suits its name well. 

This small and compact plant is great for Chameleons because its thick trunks provide strong climbing apparatus for them to maneuver around their enclosure.

Care Requirements: I recommend placing your Dracaena somewhere in the enclosure so it’s in position for the UV rays to hit it. Without access to UV lighting, your Dracaena will slowly start to decline and all of a sudden it’ll perish.

They also need to be planted with soil offering good drainage and will only require watering once the soil has completely dried out.

Jade Plant

The Jade plant (Crassula ovata) has a few different names such as; money plant, lucky plant, and, money tree. 

This succulent provides sturdy branches great for your Chameleon to climb and walk on. They grow in an upward fashion, so depending on the size of your enclosure, you can allow them to grow to their heart’s content or keep them trimmed back.

Care Requirements: The fact the Jade plant is a succulent, means it doesn’t require much water at all. Only water them once the soil has completely dried out. For lighting, however, they need constant UV exposure. I recommend once a week to remove it and place it in direct sunlight for the day.

Schefflera Tree

The Schefflera Tree (Heptapleurum arboricola) also known as the Dwarf Umbrella Tree, is named after the shape of its leaves resembling that of an umbrella. 

In my opinion, these plants are one of the best for Chameleon enclosures because they thrive in tropical and humid climates. Which is the same as Chameleons. 

The shape of their leaves will provide plenty of water droplets for your Chameleon to lap up throughout the day. 

The large umbrella-shaped leaves also provide hiding spots for your pet to blend into, whilst the strong branches offer great climbing opportunities for enrichment.

Word of warning: These plants are safe for Chameleons, but can pose skin irritation risks to humans, cats, and, dogs so take care when handling them.

Care Requirements: Keep out of direct sunlight, and these plants will thrive. Offering water only once the soil has completely dried out.

Grape Ivy

The Grapy Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is a great plant to place in the enclosure, this is because it is capable of climbing up the sides of walls and other decorations, providing great hide and relaxing spots for your Chameleon.

Care Requirements: Grape Ivy is pretty self-sufficient when it comes to care, similar to other plants on this list only water when the soil has completely dried out.

Yucca Plant

The Yucca plant offers thick trunks for your Chameleon to climb and get enrichment from, they don’t provide many hiding places, they are however, one of the best plants when it comes to cleaning the air.

Care Requirements: Yuccas need to be planted in a position with great drainage, I recommend adding pebbles to the soil to help the water flow through. You’ll want the soil to be moist and not wet, allow for the soil to dry out slightly before re-watering.

Spider Plant

The Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is more of a space filler for the bottom of the enclosure, it’s a rare occurrence Chameleons wouldn’t be climbing around off the floor. However, you don’t want to deprive them of the opportunity if they want to.

The Spider plant does just that, it provides great foliage cover and grows more outward than they do upwards offering more cover than climbing possibilities.

Care Requirements: Spider plants are just your standard household plant, as long as you water regularly, they’ll thrive in their environment. I do recommend replanting them once a year though.

Bromeliads

Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae) are a uniquely spiky and tropical plant, they only tend to flower near the end of their life cycle. However, they’re lovely to look at before they flower with their different shades of red and green. 

These sturdy plants fit into Chameleon enclosures well for the climbing properties and the change of colors allows for your Chameleon to do the same.

Fun Fact: The Bromeliad plant is related to the pineapple.

Care Requirements: The only thing to note when caring for these plants is their need for humidity, which luckily will be provided in a Chameleon enclosure anyway. If you wanted to create more of these plants, all you’d need to do is a bit of pruning and then plant the cuttings.

Wax Begonia

The Wax Begonia (Begonia cucullata) is a beautiful plant to look at because of its pink-colored flowers. They’re typically used as a filler plant in flower beds but can be a great addition to your Chameleon enclosure. 

Thanks to the temperature and humidity requirements needed for Chameleon care, it makes a great location to cultivate these plants.

Care Requirements: When they’re young, Wax Begonias require regular watering, not letting them dry out. But as they grow, you can water them less frequently. Maintain a good pruning schedule to encourage outward growth instead of upward.

Boston Fern

The Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is a really fun plant to have in the enclosure as it’s lightweight and transparent, you can really observe your Chameleon maneuver and change color as it moves around the enclosure.

Typically, the stems are strong enough to hold an adult Chameleon’s weight and the leaves provide plenty of shady spots to hide and relax in.

Care Requirements: I recommend placing this plant near the lower half of your enclosure to avoid direct UV exposure and water regular enough to maintain a damp soil base.

Nasturtiums

The Nasturium (Tropaeolum) is another great addition to Chameleon enclosures, mainly because of its edible and tasty nature. Chameleons love eating these plants and will do so at their own pace. 

Another bonus of these plants is their aesthetic looks, they bloom in a range of colors such as; red, pink, orange, yellow, and that’s just to name a few.

Care Requirements: Watering your Nasturtium 1 – 2 times per week will be enough to keep it satisfied and thrive in its environment.

Rubber Fig

The Rubber fig (Ficus elastica) is another plant part of the Ficus family. Not to be confused with the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). Offers sturdy climbing frame-type leaves and talks to give your Chameleon plenty of enrichment opportunities.

This plant is essentially a tree, which is why I mention not to confuse it with the Pará rubber tree, and this means it can grow to quite a height. Keeping an eye on its growth and regular pruning are necessary to keep this Ficus in check.

Care Requirements: Because of the environment your Rubber fig is in, it’ll be pretty self-sufficient in survival. They enjoy humid and damp environments. I recommend only watering if you notice the soil is drying out.

Areca Palm

The Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)  is another good plant when it comes to circulating oxygen into the enclosure, which is great for your Chameleon to be able to thrive. 

Your Chameleon will most likely spend a lot of time at the base of this plant getting some fresh air and lapping up the water droplets sliding down the leaves.

Care Requirements: Constant exposure to UV rays is good for this specific plant to thrive. I also recommend watering as soon as you notice the soil drying out.

How To Prepare Plants For Chameleons

You may think it’s a silly idea to prepare a plant before placing it into your Chameleon enclosure, but it could protect your beloved pet from sickness and in extreme cases fatality.

5 Steps To Preparing Plants For Chameleon Enclosures

#1 Cleaning

I recommend cleaning the plants a minimum of 3 times, this is because depending on where you purchased the plant from, there may have been harmful chemicals and pesticides used when being treated. Cleaning the plants eradicates the risk of poisoning your Chameleon with such chemicals.

#2 Pest Control

You’ll need to do a detailed check of all the plants you have collected for your Chameleon enclosure to ensure no pests such as mites, anthropods, spiders, and other potentially harmful critters are inhabiting the plant.

#3 Replanting

Ensuring you replant each of the plants is a must-do. This is because quite often commercial soil has been treated with potentially harmful fertilizers, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and replace it.

#4 Pruning

Pruning is more of an environmental preparation as opposed to a health preparation. You can prune the plants to suit the enclosure you’re placing them in to form hide spots, climbing areas, and an aesthetically clean look.

#5 Isolation

Quarantining the plants for a 7-day period before introducing them into your Chameleon habitat is good practice to get in the habit of.

This is a double-check method of potentially hard-to-spot pests and even diseases within the plants that could be harmful to your Chameleon.

How To Maintain Plants In Chameleon Enclosures

The maintenance of plants within a Chameleon enclosure is no different from caring for outdoor and indoor plants. 

I recommend selecting plants that require similar environments to your Chameleon would have in the wild and maintaining a regular watering schedule. Soon you’ll have a thriving ecosystem within the enclosure.

Why Are Plants Important For Chameleon Habitats?

In the wild, Chameleons will use plants to hide from predators and to hunt their prey. Because of the scarce nature of food available to Chameleons in the wild, it’s not uncommon for them to eat the vegetation around them to survive.

Other important factors plants have are;

  • Climbing apparatus
  • Cleaning the air
  • Maintain healthy humidity levels

6 Toxic Plants For Chameleon Enclosures

The list of plants below are an absolute no-go for Chameleon enclosures. They’re all toxic and can lead to sickness and fatalities.

  • Creeping Fig
  • Zulu Fig
  • Fiddle-Leaf Figs
  • Philodendrons
  • Crotons
  • Artificial Plants

Summary

In this article, we delve into the world of caring for Chameleons and explore the vital role plants play in their enclosures. 

Chameleons are unique reptilian pets, and their needs extend to the types of plants they share their space with.

When creating a comfortable and safe environment for your Chameleon, remember to choose your plants wisely, and you’ll have a happy and healthy reptilian companion.