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13 Best Plants for Snake Habitats (with Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

Perhaps you’re in the market for your first snake and you’re not sure how to decorate its habitat, or maybe you’re an experienced snake enthusiast looking to liven up your pet’s vivarium.

Finding the right plants for your pet snake’s home is very important as you certainly don’t want to choose anything that could harm your snake, and taking care of the plants shouldn’t be too difficult either.

We’ve got your back. We’ve created a list of 13 plants that would work well in your snake’s enclosure. The list has been divided into two sections—plants that do well in humid conditions and those that can survive a dry and desert-like environment.

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Best Plants for a Humid Vivarium

If you have a vivarium set up to mimic a tropical rainforest, the environment will be quite warm and humid. This type of environment is obviously essential if you have a tropical snake but will also impact the kind of plants you will use in the enclosure.

1. Bromeliads

bromeliad_JoaoBOliver_Pixabay
Image Credit: JoaoBOliver, Pixabay

These plants have almost 3,500 species within the genus, and they have special cup-like leaves (typically called urns) that collect rainwater.

You can investigate which species might work best in your own snake habitat, but some of the more popular species include:

  • Tillandsia pseudobaileyi:This is an “air plant” that needs to be anchored to rocks or trees and does not require soil. They just need occasional misting but are very hardy and will thrive with little intervention.
  • Neoregelia: This beautiful and bright plant needs to have its urns kept about one-quarter full of water and requires a lot of light. Otherwise, they do well when left alone for the most part.

2. Ferns

Ferns_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

There are a number of ferns that you can consider that are not only safe and easy to take care of but will look gorgeous in your vivarium. There are over 10,000 species of ferns, and they are amongst the oldest plants in the world.

Some types of ferns that would do great in your snake’s habitat are:

  • Bird’s nest fern: This fern requires a well-lit vivarium, needs room to grow, and regular misting.
  • Boston fern: This fern is quite hardy as long as it’s not overwatered. It does very well as a hanging plant.
  • Staghorn fern: Named for its unusual appearance, these ferns do well in dim light and can grow on other plants like the bromeliads.

3. Ficus

ficus plant_Julio Pablo Vázquez_Pixabay
Image Credit: Julio Pablo Vázquez, Pixabay

There are also a number of ficus plants to consider. These plants are also known as figs, and while they are known for being edible, they also make beautiful ornamental plants for the vivarium.

Some of the more popular species are:

  • Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila):This fig grows like a vine, so it will need the occasional cutting back and pruning, or it might take over your vivarium. The Creeping Fig needs good light and moist soil.
  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica):This ficus can grow into a proper tree, but it will be a small tree within the confines of an enclosure. It also needs moderate humidity, moist soil, and good light.
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina):Similar to the Rubber Plant, it can also grow into a large tree but will settle into a small tree inside your snake’s habitat. Like the other two ficus plants, it needs moderate humidity with moist soil and good light.

4. Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

Easy to look after and great for beginners, the Golden Pothos can survive in low light and will grow horizontally rather than vertically. They do well in damp conditions and are very hardy plants. It might require the occasional pruning as it might try to take over the floor of your habitat.


5. Inch Plant

inch plant_Ellyy_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Ellyy, Shutterstock

This plant has been named the Inch Plant because of its propensity to grow quite quickly. It has pretty green and purple leaves and needs bright but indirect light. It’s a type of vine, so you need to prune it back on occasion, or it will try to take over the enclosure.


6. Orchids

jewel orchids_Sirinn3249_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Sirinn3249, Shutterstock

Orchids are notorious for being delicate flowers that are difficult to cultivate. However, there are a number of orchids that are primarily green plants and are fairly easy to grow. Plus, they will do quite well in your vivarium.

  • Jewel Orchid: With its striking dark green leaves that sport pink pinstripes, it has a tall white flower that blooms once a year. It does well with moist soil and can handle lower light conditions, and thrives in humidity. It is one of the easiest of the orchids to grow.
  • Pink Rock Orchid: This orchid blooms a pretty pink flower and can grow out of rocks. It needs bright, indirect light and does well in hot and humid conditions.
  • Zootrophion dayanum: Named for its unusual flowers (from the side, they resemble mammal heads), these orchids do well in cool to warm temperatures, with low to medium light and moist soil.

7. Spider Plant

spider plant_t50_Shutterstock
Image Credit: t50, Shutterstock

These plants tend to be very popular house plants, particularly for beginners, as they are easy to take care of. They will probably do best if they are hung up in the vivarium. Just be sure they are kept moist but are able to drain as well. These plants can grow to be fairly large, so be prepared to remove them at some point in the future—unless you have a very large vivarium!

leaves divider leaf

Best Plants for an Arid Vivarium

Next up are the plants that will do quite well in a vivarium set up to mimic a desert-like environment. In this case, you will need plants that require a dry habitat that doesn’t require a lot of water. Many of these plants are succulents, which also makes them much lower maintenance.

8. Aloe Vera

aloe-vera_PollyDot_Pixabay
Image Credit: PollyDot, Pixabay

Aloe vera is a succulent that is renowned for its soothing and healing properties but can also make an excellent plant for your snake’s vivarium. Some varieties do have small spikes, so be sure to select the right kind for your enclosure.

They grow straight up to at least 1 foot, so be sure you have the right amount of height to accommodate them. They can be planted into the substrate and only require watering if the soil is dry and avoid placing them in direct light.


9. Echeveria

echeveria_PublicDomainPictures_Pixabay
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Echeveria is a succulent that comes in a variety of colors—everything from purple to green to blue. Some Echeveria can grow up to a foot tall and a foot wide, so double-check the type of Echeveria you’re considering before purchasing. These pretty succulents are quite low maintenance and are safe for your snake.


10. Haworthia

Haworthia_Fabrizio Guarisco_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Fabrizio Guarisco, Shutterstock

There are a number of species that belong in the Haworthia genus. They are small succulents originally from South Africa and share the same family as aloe vera. They should be watered every 2 to 3 weeks, and they do well in both direct and indirect light.


11. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Mothers in laws tounge_Yoye Jantapoon_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Yoye Jantapoon, Shutterstock

This plant is also called the Snake Plant, so perhaps it’s meant to be. It grows tall, so again, you need to be sure you have a tall vivarium. It requires bright lights but is quite tolerant of drought conditions and should really only be watered every 3 weeks or so.


12. Ponytail Palm

ponytail palm_The Handyman_Shutterstock
Image Credit: The Handyman, Shutterstock

These can grow into full-blown trees, but they grow quite slowly, and perhaps leaving it potted will make it easier to remove once it outgrows your vivarium. They do fine in low light, and they store water in their stems and therefore don’t need much water.


13. String of Pearls

string of pearl_Fabrizio Guarisco_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Fabrizio Guarisco, Shutterstock

This succulent is a unique one, thanks to its rather eye-catching appearance. It acts like a vine by growing and taking root in different places, and if you cut some shoots and plant them, you can grow a new plant. It does need bright light and prefers dry, arid conditions. This succulent can also do well in higher levels of humidity but does prefer dry conditions.

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Things to Consider

Luckily, snakes don’t eat plants, so you don’t have to worry about risking your pet’s health with a plant. But it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Purchase The Appropriate Plants

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Image Credit: NickyPe, Pixabay

You’ll want to ensure that you buy the type of plants that will thrive alongside your snake. For example, opt for succulents with your Gopher Snake and ferns and orchids for your Red-Tailed Boa. You’ll want to research the best plants for the habitat as well as consider how much or how little effort you want to put into taking care of them.

Think About Placement

You’ll want to think about the sturdiness of your plants and where the best place is to install them. If you’re worried about your snake accidentally knocking things over, be sure they are out of your snake’s path. Also, make sure you have easy access to the plants for watering and pruning (if necessary).

Think About Installation

Some of your plants might be better off if you leave them in their containers and pots. If they grow too big, you can easily remove them. Some plants can be planted directly into the substrate or in other installations set up in the vivarium, such as in rocks and bark.

Prepare The Plants First

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Image Credit: Andreas Roth, Pixabay

Before you place your new plants in the vivarium, you’ll want to wash them with water to clean off any chemicals, pesticides, or pests that might have hitched a ride. You might also want to consider removing the potting soil and replacing it with your own so that you know it is safe for your snake.

Pruning And Maintenance

You’ll find that some plants will need occasional pruning, or they’ll start to take over the habitat. This can be accomplished quite easily and quickly. If in doubt, look for pruning advice for each specific plant online.

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Conclusion

We all know plants will be extra work, so why on earth would you even consider adding plants to your snake’s habitat? Most snakes will do just fine without any added plants, but there are definitely some advantages.

Plants add extra oxygen into the enclosure, help turn the waste into fertilizer, and add nutrients into the substrate. They also give your snake some additional places to rest and hide, and let’s face it, a vivarium full of beautiful plants will showcase that gorgeous snake of yours.

Yes, plants are extra work, but if you do your research and select the right plants, you might find that they actually don’t require much work at all, but you and your snake will definitely reap the benefits.

SEE ALSO: How to Take Care of a Pet Snake (Care Sheet & Guide 2021)


Featured Image Credit: Maria Babikova, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.