Getting a bearded dragon is sort of like getting your first apartment. You get super excited about it, but then when you get it, you realize pretty quickly that the space is very empty and in desperate need of something to liven it up. In an apartment, many young adults hang posters, but your bearded dragon doesn’t have a favorite band to post on its wall.
Still, there are many ways you could decorate its habitat to make it more realistic and a lot less boring. One of the best ways is to use live plants, though you need to be careful about plant selection. To help simplify the process, we’ve found seven plants that are safe for dragons and easy to cultivate, which you can read about in the following reviews.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Prickly Pear Cactus||
The 7 Best Plants for a Bearded Dragon Habitats – Reviews 2023
|Max height:||3-5 inches|
Bearded dragons originally come from the deserts of Australia, so it makes sense to use plants in a dragon’s environment that mimic the region they come from. Haworthia plants come from similarly dry and arid areas of South Africa, making them quite similar to the plant life that you’d find in a dragon’s natural home. They’re relatively small plants that are ideally sized for a small enclosure, and because they’re succulents, they require very little water or maintenance. In fact, these plants need water just once every 10 days.
You’ll never really have to trim your Haworthia since they won’t outgrow the aquarium. However, this also means that adding one will only have a minimal impact. Haworthia are hardy plants and they’re harmless to bearded dragons. Dragons won’t eat them though, so these plants should remain in good condition inside the enclosure. Some specimens even have colored tips that can add some vibrancy to the tank.
|Max height:||24+ inches|
Oregano is an excellent choice for your dragon’s enclosure. This plant will add more than just a dash of green to the space. It will also bring along that fresh oregano scent, which can help to keep your dragon’s cage smelling fresh. Moreover, oregano is edible for dragons, and your dragon might even decide to munch on it from time to time. Granted, oregano isn’t usually a dragon’s favorite green, so they won’t be munching on it so much that your oregano will die. This is good because oregano has a high calcium content, which isn’t great for dragons to consume too often.
Like other plants we’ll recommend for your dragon’s environment, oregano is simple to grow. It needs very little care and tends to thrive in climates that are dry and warm. Plus, it’s an herb that requires excellent drainage, just like your dragon’s substrate will provide. When grown indoors, oregano generally remains pretty small, so it shouldn’t outgrow your dragon’s space, though they can reach heights of two feet or more if left unchecked. Luckily, your dragon will probably help trim it down by occasionally munching on a few of the leaves!
|Max height:||24 inches|
Dragons can eat a wide range of plants that includes a lot more than just fruits and vegetables. Flowers such as lavender are on the list, making this plant an edible option for your dragon’s tank. It’s safe for your dragon to eat, and lavender provides a pleasing natural fragrance to help keep your dragon’s enclosure smelling great.
Since you’re looking for plants to liven up your dragon’s aquarium, lavender is a great choice as it will add a splash of blue or purple as well as green. Ideal for such spaces, lavender plants grow just a few inches each year, so your dragon will probably provide all the trimming necessary by eating the new growth. On the downside, it’s a bit hard to grow lavender with artificial light, so you’ll have to see how well it grows with your dragon’s light setup.
4. Prickly Pear Cactus
|Max height:||15 feet|
Prickly pear cactus is great for dragons as it’s edible and nutritious for them. The only problems are that it’s a cactus with spines that could harm your dragon, and it tends to grow pretty large. That said, there are spineless options available, which ensures your dragon won’t get hurt. And of course, you can manage the size of the cactus with regular trimming. Besides, your dragon will help you keep its size contained by eating it as it grows!
Interestingly, prickly pear comes in a purple variety, though most are green. These cacti require almost no care or upkeep, and they thrive in the dry, hot conditions that your dragon loves. Overall, they’re a great fit for any dragon enclosure, though you have to take care to either choose a spineless variety or to remove the spines yourself so your dragon doesn’t get hurt.
|Growth rate:||Very fast|
|Max height:||4-7 inches|
Similar to oregano, basil is another herb that’s safe for dragons to eat. The only problem with putting basil in your dragon’s enclosure is that your dragon is likely to really enjoy eating it! Because of this, your beardie will probably eat the basil faster than it can grow, which won’t ever give your basil the chance to get off the ground!
Basil grows easily in warm environments, though it doesn’t grow well with wet roots. Luckily, the types of substrates commonly used in bearded dragon habitats are quick-draining and well-suited for growing basil. Plus, basil, like other herbs, gives off a pleasant smell that help to keep your beardie’s cage from starting to stink.
|Max height:||12 inches|
Echeveria are small succulents that require little water to thrive. They grow very well in terrariums, making them a good fit for a dragon’s habitat. These plants are totally safe for dragons. There are no thorns or spines on them, though they’re probably not the best choice for food, so you may not want to let your dragon eat them.
If you’re looking for something a bit more colorful than just a green plant, Echeveria gives you some colorful options to pick from. Thankfully, they grow very slowly, so you can go a long time between trimmings. On the downside, these succulents are a bit pricier than most of the other plants we’ve suggested on this list, though they also tend to be a bit more vibrant, colorful, and lively as well.
7. Mini Aloe Plant
|Max height:||12 inches|
More than 500 species are part of the aloe plant family, some of which can reach sizes similar to trees. Naturally, that’s not the kind of aloe you want to plant in your dragon’s enclosure. Rather, you’re looking for a miniature aloe variety that remains small. Aloe plants have spikes on them, but they don’t seem to cause problems for dragons. Granted, dragons don’t eat aloe, so it shouldn’t be an issue.
Aloe plants are incredibly easy to grow. They require almost no care, and as long as you pick a mini variety, it should remain a perfect size for a dragon enclosure. Most are green, though some have unique mottled markings that are quite attractive. Aloe plants are pricier than many other plants you might put in your dragon’s cage, but they’re still a great option with minimal care needs.
Unless you know a lot about plants and bearded dragons, deciding on which plants to use in your dragon’s enclosure can be difficult. There’s more to consider than you might realize at first, and if you make a mistake, it could cause harm to your dragon. If you’re still unsure of what plants you want to use, then we aim to help you figure it out with this buyer’s guide.
Live Plants in Your Dragon’s Enclosure
When it comes to planting live plants in your dragon’s enclosure, there are many factors for you to consider, including your dragon’s health, the amount of care required by any particular plant, and more. Let’s discuss the major considerations you should be giving thought to so you can prioritize your needs and make a sound decision.
Risk vs Reward
No doubt, live plants in your dragon’s enclosure can provide some rewards. They look great, they’ll improve your dragon’s quality of life, and they can even become a food source for your lizard. However, many plants are toxic to dragons, and even if you choose plants that are safe, they could be contaminated and may introduce something hazardous to your dragon. Whenever you’re adding live plants to your dragon’s tank, be aware that there’s always a risk involved.
Live plants require a lot of additional work. Of course, some plants require far less care than others, and these are the plants that we recommend. Still, you’ll have to think about watering the plant, ensuring it gets proper lighting, and trimming it so it remains a size that’s compatible with the enclosure. Make certain you understand how much extra work is involved before you start adding live plants to your dragon’s cage.
Real Plants or Faux?
Remember, there are other alternatives to live plants. Faux plants look pretty realistic, but they don’t have any of the downsides that accompany live plants. Fake plants won’t die, they won’t potentially harm your dragon, they don’t need to be trimmed, and you can get them in many colors. Before you go through all the work of adding live plants, consider using faux plants first.
Will Your Dragon Eat It?
One issue with live plants is that dragons are herbivores and will eat many different plants. This is fine if you choose plants that are safe for dragons to eat, but not all plants are. Many plants are toxic to dragons, even if the fruits they produce are safe for a beardie to eat. Do your research on any plant you plan to add to your dragon’s tank and make absolute certain that it won’t harm your pet.
Plants Your Dragon Should Never Eat
While there are dozens of plants that are safe for dragons to consume, the following plants are not. You should never put these plants in an enclosure with your dragon.
When it comes to decorating your dragon’s tank with live plants, safety is of paramount importance. The plants we’ve covered in these reviews are all dragon-safe, but there are three we recommend above the others.
Haworthia is our top pick, as it remains small, is incredibly easy to take care of, and won’t harm your dragon in any way. Oregano is our second suggestion; an herb that’s safe for dragons to eat, is easy to maintain, and remains small when grown indoors. Lavender is our final recommendation, adding some blue or purple coloration in a plant that’s safe for dragons to eat and only grows a few inches annually.
Featured Image Credit: Natasha Potapova, Shutterstock