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Vibrant Vivarium Plants: Your Guide to the Top 10 Green Companions

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the realm of vivarium plants, shedding light on 10 common yet captivating species.

From the lushness of ferns to the exotic charm of orchids, let’s explore these green companions that can transform your vivarium into a thriving, lively abode.

The Top 10 Vivarium Plants

Vivarium plants are not just a backdrop; they are the lifeblood that lends a thriving pulse to the enclosed habitat.

Choosing the right plants that synchronize with the environment and the inhabitants is crucial.

Let’s navigate through 10 common yet fascinating vivarium plants that are popular among enthusiasts for their beauty, ease of care, and the ecological balance they bring to the table.


Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae)

  • Description and Natural Habitat: Bromeliads are a family of monocot flowering plants native to the tropical Americas. Their vibrant bracts and flowers add a splash of color to the vivarium, making them a delightful visual centerpiece.
  • Vivarium Suitability: They have a unique ability to hold water between their leaves, creating little reservoirs, which become micro-habitats for many small creatures. This feature makes them a charming and functional choice for tropical and subtropical vivarium setups.
  • Care Tips: Bromeliads thrive under bright, indirect light. They prefer well-draining, airy substrate and appreciate occasional misting. Their care regime is relatively straightforward, making them a popular choice among hobbyists.
Air Plants

Air Plants (Tillandsia)

  • Description and Natural Habitat: Tillandsias, commonly known as air plants, are part of the Bromeliaceae family. Native to the forests, mountains and deserts of Central and South America, these plants have a unique ability to draw nutrients from the air, requiring no soil.
  • Vivarium Suitability: Their small size and epiphytic nature make them perfect companions for arboreal inhabitants, offering them hideouts and foraging spots. Their intriguing forms and ease of placement make them a versatile choice for various vivarium designs.
  • Care Tips: Air plants require bright, indirect light and good air circulation. They thrive on high humidity, making misting a vital part of their care routine.


  • Description and Natural Habitat: Ferns are ancient plants with a history dating back over 350 million years. They are naturally found in a variety of habitats from rainforests to arid deserts.
  • Vivarium Suitability: Their lush foliage and various sizes make them a favorite among vivarium enthusiasts. They help in creating a dense, tropical ambiance, ideal for inhabitants who thrive in such environments.
  • Care Tips: Ferns prefer moist, well-draining soil and indirect, low to medium light. They thrive in high humidity, making them a suitable choice for humid vivarium setups.

Orchids (Orchidaceae)

  • Description and Natural Habitat: Orchids are known for their beautiful and intricate flowers. They are a vast and diverse plant family with species that are native to nearly every continent.
  • Vivarium Suitability: Some smaller orchid species or hybrids can be a perfect addition to a vivarium, providing an exotic touch with their sporadic blooms.
  • Care Tips: They generally require well-draining substrates and moderate to high light conditions. Some may require a period of drying out between waterings, so understanding the specific needs of the chosen species is essential.


  • Description and Natural Habitat: Mosses are non-vascular plants that usually inhabit damp or shady locations.
  • Vivarium Suitability: They are excellent for maintaining humidity and covering the ground or decorating logs and rocks, providing a naturalistic touch to the vivarium.
  • Care Tips: Mosses thrive in low to medium light and high humidity. They require a moist environment to grow well.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

  • Description and Natural Habitat: Known for its hardy nature and lovely trailing vines, pothos is an adaptable plant native to Southeast Asia and New Guinea.
  • Vivarium Suitability: Its fast growth and hardy nature make it a practical choice for beginners looking to add greenery to their vivariums.
  • Care Tips: Pothos is tolerant of a variety of light conditions, but it prefers bright, indirect light. It’s not fussy about watering, making maintenance relatively easy.

Fittonias (Fittonia albivenis)

  • Description and Natural Habitat: Native to the tropical rainforests of South America, Fittonias are known for their striking vein patterns and lush, mosaic foliage.
  • Vivarium Suitability: Their compact growth and attractive leaves add a layer of texture and color, making them a wonderful choice for ground cover or background foliage in a vivarium.
  • Care Tips: Thriving in low to medium light and high humidity, Fittonias prefer moist, well-draining soil. They appreciate a good misting, emulating their natural humid habitat.
Creeping Fig

Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)

  • Description and Natural Habitat: A fast-growing, self-clinging vine, Creeping Fig is native to East Asia. Its ability to quickly cover surfaces with a green curtain makes it a favorite among plant enthusiasts.
  • Vivarium Suitability: Its vigorous growth is excellent for creating a green backdrop, climbing surfaces, or providing ground cover, lending a dense, jungle-like feel to the vivarium.
  • Care Tips: It prefers a moist, humid environment with medium to bright light. Pruning is essential to keep its growth in check.


  • Description and Natural Habitat: Anubias is a genus of aquatic and semi-aquatic flowering plants native to tropical central and western Africa. They are often found along rivers and marshes.
  • Vivarium Suitability: Suitable for both aquatic and semi-aquatic setups, Anubias provides a natural, riverside aesthetic to the vivarium.
  • Care Tips: They require a nutrient-rich substrate or a good fertilizer to thrive. Moderate lighting and a humid environment are ideal for their growth.

Cryptanthus (Earth Stars)

  • Description and Natural Habitat: Originating from Brazil, Cryptanthus, also known as Earth Stars, are a part of the Bromeliad family. Their star-shaped foliage comes in various vibrant colors.
  • Vivarium Suitability: Their low-growing, rosette form makes them a stunning addition to the foreground or midground of the vivarium, adding a splash of color and texture.
  • Care Tips: Cryptanthus prefers bright, indirect light to maintain its vibrant coloration. They thrive in a humid, well-draining substrate.

Integrating Vivarium Plants: Essentials to Keep in Mind

A vivarium is a canvas where you can recreate a slice of the natural world.

Integrating vivarium plants is an art that calls for a basic understanding of the environment you are trying to emulate and the needs of the creatures that will inhabit it.

Here are some key considerations to ensure a harmonious blend of flora and fauna in your vivarium.

Understanding Your Vivarium’s Environment

  • Climate: Is your vivarium tropical, temperate, or desert-like? The climate will significantly influence the type of plants that will thrive in it.
  • Lighting: Assess the lighting conditions as different plants have varying light requirements. Ensure your vivarium is equipped with appropriate lighting to meet the needs of the chosen plants.
  • Humidity and Water: Different plants have varying preferences for humidity and water. Knowing the humidity level and the watering needs is essential to keep your vivarium plants thriving.

Choosing the Right Plants

  • Size and Growth Rate: Select plants that will fit well in your vivarium as they grow. Fast-growing plants might require regular trimming to keep them in check.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the plants you choose are compatible with each other and the animals in your vivarium. Some plants may have toxic properties that could be harmful to certain animals.

Planting Procedures

  • Preparation: Before introducing any plant, ensure it’s free from pests and diseases. You might need to quarantine new plants or treat them with a mild insecticidal soap.
  • Planting: Ensure the vivarium has a suitable substrate for planting. Arrange the plants in a way that allows them enough space to grow and spread.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

  • Regular Check-ups: Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests, diseases, or nutritional deficiencies. Early detection and intervention can prevent many issues.
  • Pruning and Trimming: Keep fast-growing plants in check with regular pruning. It helps in maintaining a tidy appearance and prevents overcrowding.

Learning and Adapting

  • Documentation: Keep a journal to document the growth of your plants, any issues you encounter, and the solutions that worked. It’s a learning experience that will make you a better vivarium gardener over time.

Incorporating vivarium plants can initially seem like a daunting task, especially with the multitude of options available. However, with a bit of knowledge, preparation, and a willingness to learn and adapt, you can create a thriving, self-sustaining ecosystem that will provide endless fascination and learning. As you become more acquainted with the various vivarium plants and their care, you’ll discover the joy and fulfillment that comes with watching your miniature ecosystem flourish.

Frequently Asked Questions: Navigating Common Vivarium Plant Queries

Venturing into the realm of vivarium plants might spark a flurry of questions, especially if you’re a novice. Here, we address some common queries to help streamline your vivarium gardening journey.

What is the best way to introduce new plants into my vivarium?

  • Before introducing new plants, ensure they are healthy, pest-free, and suitable for your vivarium’s environment.
  • Quarantine new plants for a few weeks to observe any signs of pests or diseases, and rinse them well before planting.

How can I manage pests in my vivarium?

  • Pests can be a challenge. Regular inspection, natural predators, and mild insecticidal soaps can be effective.
  • Ensuring a healthy, balanced vivarium will also naturally deter pest infestations.

Do I need to fertilize my vivarium plants?

  • While many vivarium plants will thrive on the nutrients provided by the substrate and waste from the vivarium inhabitants, you might occasionally need to supplement with a mild, organic fertilizer if you notice signs of nutrient deficiency.

How do I know if a plant is safe for my vivarium animals?

  • Research is key.
  • Ensure you know the toxicity and behavior of plants you are introducing, especially concerning the specific species of animals in your vivarium.

Can I mix plants from different climates in my vivarium?

  • It’s advisable to stick to plants that thrive in similar conditions to maintain a stable, harmonious environment.
  • However, with careful planning and maintenance, it’s possible to create microclimates within your vivarium to accommodate a variety of plants.

How do I choose the right lighting for my vivarium plants?

  • The right lighting depends on the specific needs of the plants you choose. LED lights offering a full spectrum of light are often a good choice for promoting healthy plant growth.

What should I do if my plants are not thriving?

  • Evaluate the lighting, humidity, and water conditions.
  • Are they meeting the plant’s needs? Sometimes, adjusting these factors or relocating the plant to a more suitable spot within the vivarium can resolve issues.

Can vivarium plants survive without fauna?

  • Yes, plants can survive without fauna, but animals contribute to the ecosystem by providing natural fertilizers and helping with pest control, making maintenance easier.

With a clearer understanding of common concerns and practical solutions, you’re well on your way to becoming a proficient vivarium gardener.

The relationship between vivarium plants and animals is a fascinating dance of nature that rewards the observer with a richer understanding of life’s delicate balance.