Can I Put Live Plants in With My Leopard Gecko?

When it comes to decorating a leopard geckos tank, there are a ton of different pieces of equipment out there to choose from to make it look exactly how you want it to.  There are items like climbing rocks, different kinds of cool signs, and even fake plants.  Fake plants are one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment, but for some, fake plants just aren’t good enough.

Can I put live plants in with my leopard gecko?  Yes, but because some plants can be harmful to your leopard geckos health, there are only certain kinds of real plants that can be placed within their tank.

It’s no secret that real plants look much better than fake plants, but unlike the fake plants, the real ones have to be maintained and cared for to prevent them from dying too quickly.  Just like any other plant, they’ll need to be watered and they’ll also need enough light in order to thrive and survive for a very long time.  That said, here is some more information that might be useful.

Types of Plants That Can Be Used

Things would be so much easier if we could just go in a store and pick up any cute and small plant we see and place it in our leopard geckos tank but because some plants can be very harmful to your leopard gecko if consumed and sometimes even if they aren’t consumed, doing something like that is not that simple.

Not only that, but sometimes feeder insects will hop around during feeding time and feast on your plants and then bite your leopard gecko, therefore, passing on any toxins that they may have picked up from the plant and as a result, end up making your leopard gecko ill.

That said, you’ll want to really make sure you’re careful with which plants you choose to place in your tank so that you don’t risk any of that potentially happening.  As of right now, I’ve been unable to find a good source offering a list of plants that can safely be used in your tank.

But luckily, I have gathered a handful of good ones that can be used that won’t cause harm to your leopard gecko.  Here they are:

  • Cacti (without spikes)
  • Spider plants
  • Dracaena plants
  • Ficus plants
  • Air plants
  • Zebra plants
  • Dragon plants
  • Prayer plants

So far, those are all of the safe plants that I could find.  But, there may be many more out there that are just as safe.  If you decided to choose a plant that’s not on this list, be sure to do your research on whether it’s safe or not before placing it into your tank.

A lot of people think that if the plant isn’t spiky, it’s safe.  But even plants that don’t have spikes can be dangerous as well.  As stated above, there are some plants out there that carry toxins that can be very, very harmful to your leopard gecko if it gets into their bloodstream, so performing heavy research is extremely important.

All Plants Are Different

Although all of the plants listed are safe for your leopard gecko, a lot of them require different kinds of lighting and needs in order to make sure they stay healthy and alive.  Because it’s so hard to go over the requirements for each and every one, it’s best to choose a plant that you find appealing and find out what they need to survive in the tank.

The reason being is because some plants thrive in cooler and lowly lit environments while others thrive in environments that are hotter with a brighter light shining on them.

Also, for simplicity purposes, whenever you buy a plant, make sure all plants that you get are the same so that you don’t have a ton of different plants in the tank that need to be maintained differently in order to stay alive.

Getting different plants for one enclosure may be possible if you buy one type of plant for the hot side and one type of plant for the cold side, but having all kinds of different plants on one or either side might not only be hard to keep up on but it’ll probably be almost impossible as well.

That said, choose the plant or plants that you really like for each side and avoid mixing them up so that maintaining them isn’t extremely difficult.

You’ll Need UVB

Not everyone out there looking to by plants for their tank might know a lot about them, but if there’s one thing that I’m sure everyone does know, it’s that plants need light in order to survive.  You can water a plant all day, but if it doesn’t have the right amount of light hitting it, it won’t last very long within your tank, or really, anywhere else for that matter.

If you don’t already have a UVB light and you’re in need of one for your plants, I recommend taking a look at this one here from Amazon.  Nothing beats the natural rays of the sun when it comes to providing a plant with what they need in order to grow.

But because having the sun shining directly into your tank is harmful to your leopard gecko, providing your plants with light that way is not an option.  If you decide to get the light that I linked above, don’t forget to purchase a fixture with it because unfortunately, that light doesn’t come with one.

Also, before looking into buying that bulb, make sure you have a tank that’s at least 20 gallons large.  The bulb is 18 inches long, so in order to place it in your tank, the width of your tank will need to be longer than 18 inches.

If you don’t have a tank that’s longer than that, this tank here might be worth taking a look at.  It’s the tank I own and while I don’t use UVB, it is 24 inches wide.  The fixture will likely take up a little extra space as well, so getting a tank wider than 18 inches will probably be your best bet.

Not Everything Recommended Is Safe

The reptile community is amazing but because the internet is full of bad information, it can sometimes lead owners to make decisions on things that are not necessarily safe for their leopard geckos to be around.

For example, while I was doing research on plants that are suitable to be around leopard geckos, there were a lot of plants that were recommended that weren’t entirely safe.  That said, one of those recommendations was cactus plants.

You might be confused because I added cactus plants to my list above, but so I didn’t create confusion, I made sure it was known that I was talking about the kind without the spikes.  While recommending cactus plants isn’t necessarily bad information, it can be for those who don’t know if cactus plants without spikes even exist.

I personally didn’t know that they did, so because of that, I know others don’t as well.  Most information given out within the reptile community is given with the intent to help, but because it’s so easy to spread information around that you might think is true, it can put other peoples leopard geckos at risk of being in danger if the wrong piece of equipment is placed within the tank.

With that said, it’s very important that you do research on everything that’s recommended to you.  There have been tons of people who have recommended using sand as a substrate in the past and because of that, lots of leopard geckos have lost their lives because of impaction.

The same goes for plant recommendations.  Most people would never think in a million years that a tiny plant that can fit inside of a fairly small tank can be toxic, but until you do your research, you might, unfortunately, end up finding out in a way that you probably don’t want to.


Live plants in a leopard gecko enclosure are something that a lot of people don’t see or hear about every day, but even though that might be true, it’s still something that a lot of owners have looked into getting at one point in their gecko’s life.

If you want to place live plants in your tank, then just know that it is very possible to do so.  The only problem is that unlike fake plants, you’ll obviously need to put a lot more work into caring for some of them.

Some plants are very easy to maintain while others aren’t, but regardless, it’s still important that you do research on every plant that you want even if they do appear to be easy to care for just so you know exactly what you’re getting.

No matter how big, small, or hard to maintain a plant is, it’s never a good idea to assume what’s safe and what’s not because when it comes to leopard geckos, almost anything can be detrimental to their health if it gets into their bodies.

I recommend taking a look at some of the plants that I listed above and then checking into other plants from there if you don’t like what’s recommended.

There are many plants out there that I’m sure can be put into your leopard geckos tank but at least with the plants listed above, you know that they’re safe and from what I’ve seen, they’re also some of the more popular plants that many different reptile owners have within their enclosure as well.

I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...