Last Updated: June 3, 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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
4. Golden Pothos
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
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.
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.
7. Spider Plant
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!
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 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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Featured Image Credit: Maria Babikova, Shutterstock
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.