9 Iguana Safe Plants that You can Use in Your Iguana Habitat

When it comes to raising iguanas, not all green is good green. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, then you already know the vital importance of selecting the right plants for your iguana’s habitat. In my years of experience as an iguana keeper, I’ve realized that the choice of vegetation within an iguana enclosure isn’t just about aesthetics—it’s an essential component of an iguana’s wellness.

In the following article, I’m going to assertively guide you through a meticulously researched list of nine plants that are not only safe but also beneficial for your iguana.

The Best Plants for Iguana Habitats

Below is a list of the best and safe plants for iguana habitat. But remember, different iguana species hail from different environment and require different living conditions. So, be sure to select plants that will survive in the same conditions your pet requires.

For example, plants from arid regions such as cacti are better suited for spiny-tailed iguana habitat compared to green iguanas. Similarly, tropical plants may not do well in a desert like environment.

1. Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant)

  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Max Height: Up to 4 feet
  • Care Difficulty: Easy

The Snake Plant, or Sansevieria trifasciata, is an ideal choice for your iguana habitat. Known for its upright, pointed leaves with striking, striped patterns, this plant not only beautifies your iguana’s environment but also possesses qualities that make it a safe choice. Snake plants are robust, resilient, and can thrive even in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

Furthermore, snake plants are non-toxic to iguanas, making them safe for nibbling. They also aid in maintaining humidity within the enclosure, contributing to a more natural, jungle-like environment that iguanas adore. Rest assured, incorporating snake plants is a sure way to enhance your iguana’s habitat effectively.

2. Philodendron hederaceum (Heartleaf Philodendron)

  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Max Height: Up to 4 feet (can climb or trail longer)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy

Next on our list is the Heartleaf Philodendron, scientifically known as Philodendron hederaceum. With its dark green, heart-shaped leaves, this plant adds a touch of tropical allure to your iguana enclosure. Philodendrons are famously easy to care for, requiring only a moderate amount of light and watering.

For iguanas, these plants are absolutely safe and even provide an extra benefit: they are excellent climbers! The sturdy vines of the Heartleaf Philodendron can create an additional layer of exploration for your adventurous pet. However, it’s essential to keep the plant trimmed and monitored to prevent overcrowding.

3. Tradescantia zebrina (Zebrina Pendula)

  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Max Height: Up to 6 feet (trailing)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy

Tradescantia zebrina, also known as Zebrina Pendula or the inch plant, is another fantastic choice for your iguana’s habitat. With its purple and green striped leaves, it adds color and interest to any iguana enclosure. This plant grows quite fast and trails down, which adds a vibrant curtain of foliage to your setup.

Apart from their aesthetic appeal, Zebrina Pendula are perfectly safe for iguanas and are relatively easy to care for. They require a moderate amount of light and watering, and their trailing habit can provide an interesting microenvironment for your iguana to explore.

4. Platycerium bifurcatum (Staghorn Fern)

  • Growth Rate: Slow to Moderate
  • Max Height: 3 feet
  • Care Difficulty: Moderate

Our next choice, the Staghorn Fern, or Platycerium bifurcatum, is an unconventional but highly beneficial addition to an iguana habitat. Named for its unique, antler-like fronds, the Staghorn Fern is a type of epiphyte – a plant that grows on other plants but is not parasitic.

Staghorn Ferns can add a touch of the exotic to your enclosure while providing safe greenery for your iguana. The plant is non-toxic and contributes to maintaining a healthy humidity level. Keep in mind, though; these ferns require a bit more care, needing specific light conditions and regular watering.

5. Aechmea recurvata (Bromeliad)

  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Max Height: 1 to 2 feet
  • Care Difficulty: Moderate

Stepping into the realm of bromeliads, Aechmea recurvata stands out as an iguana-safe plant. This particular bromeliad species showcases silvery-green leaves and stunning pink to red flowers that can add a splash of color to your iguana habitat.

While the Bromeliad is visually pleasing, it also offers practical benefits. This plant is entirely safe for iguanas and contributes to the habitat’s overall humidity. Plus, Bromeliads often collect water in their ‘tanks,’ providing a natural drinking source for your iguana.

6. Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston Fern)

  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Max Height: 2-3 feet
  • Care Difficulty: Easy

Our list won’t be complete without the inclusion of the well-loved Boston Fern or Nephrolepis exaltata. Known for its arching fronds packed with delicate leaves, the Boston Fern can create a lush, dense environment for your iguana.

The Boston Fern is non-toxic for iguanas, and its dense growth can offer excellent hiding spots, making your pet feel secure. It’s also a humidifier in its own right, helping to maintain the optimal humidity levels that iguanas need.

7. Epipremnum aureum (Pothos)

  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Max Height: Trailing up to 40 feet
  • Care Difficulty: Easy

Epipremnum aureum, commonly known as Pothos or Devil’s Ivy, is arguably one of the most beneficial plants you can introduce to your iguana habitat. Its fast growth and trailing vines can quickly create a jungle-like feel within the enclosure.

Completely safe for iguanas, Pothos provides extensive foliage for hiding and climbing. It also thrives in a variety of lighting conditions, making it an easy-care choice for your habitat. Plus, Pothos contributes to the overall humidity, enhancing the comfort of your iguana.

8. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Hibiscus)

  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Max Height: 8-10 feet
  • Care Difficulty: Moderate

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, or the tropical hibiscus, is a favorite among iguana enthusiasts. It’s not only safe for iguanas but its vibrant, large flowers are also a delightful visual addition to any enclosure.

Hibiscus plants offer both beauty and practicality, serving as a natural source of food. Both the flowers and the leaves are edible for iguanas, providing them with a fresh, organic food source. Hibiscus does require a bit more attention to thrive, needing plenty of light and regular watering.

9. Opuntia (Prickly Pear)

  • Growth Rate: Slow to Moderate
  • Max Height: 4-15 feet, depending on species
  • Care Difficulty: Easy

Rounding out our list is Opuntia, commonly known as the Prickly Pear cactus. Known for its paddle-like segments and prickly skin, this cactus is a unique addition to an iguana habitat.

Prickly Pear is non-toxic and provides a different texture within the enclosure. Though they might look dangerous, a de-spined variety of Prickly Pear can add a touch of desert appeal to your setup. What’s more, they’re drought-tolerant and require minimal care, making them a low-maintenance choice.

Are Artificial Plants Safe for Iguana Enclosures?

Given the challenged involved in caring for live plants, many owners wonder if they can use artificial plants in their iguana habitat.

Yes, you can use artificial plants in your iguana habitat but they don’t offer any significant benefits to your pet except for the visual appeal.

Artificial plants, if chosen wisely, can eliminate the worry of your scaly buddy nibbling on potentially toxic vegetation but it presents a new problem. If your iguana eats some of the the artificial plant it can  choke or become obstructed.

If you do want to try artificial plants in your iguana enclosure, make sure the they are made of non-toxic, iguana-safe materials. Some artificial plants available on the market can be made of materials that, if ingested, can pose a health risk to your iguana.

Another factor to consider is the size and sturdiness of these plants. Iguanas are climbers by nature and may attempt to ascend these artificial appendages. Smaller or poorly constructed plants may not withstand the weight of a full-grown iguana, leading to potential habitat disruptions or even injuries. To avoid this, I always opt for larger, sturdier artificial plants, replicating the natural climbing options that my iguana would have in the wild.

Lastly, remember, the purpose of plants in an iguana enclosure isn’t merely decorative. Real plants can contribute to the enclosure’s humidity levels, aiding in skin hydration and overall iguana health. My solution? I strike a balance by combining both real and artificial plants. This way, I can maintain the enclosure’s aesthetics without compromising on the natural benefits.

Tips on How To Add Plants to Your Iguana’s Habitat

By incorporating plants in your iguana’s habitat, you’re making a commitment to their wellbeing and a closer replication of their natural environment. Here are a few tips on how to add live plants to your iguana habitat the right way.

  1. Plant Selection: The first step in curating a vivacious, iguana-friendly habitat is selecting the right plants. Go beyond merely picking iguana-safe plants. Make sure these plants also offer tangible benefits to your iguana, like providing shade, climbing support, or even nutritional value if ingested. For instance, the leaves of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are not only safe for iguanas but also a delicious treat for them. You can choose any plants from the list above.
  2. Preparation Before Introduction: Never introduce plants directly into your iguana’s habitat. Instead, follow a thorough cleaning and quarantine procedure to mitigate any risk of contamination. Remember that one day, I rushed to add a newly-bought Sansevieria trifasciata to my iguana’s enclosure, only to later realize it had mildew. The takeaway? Always cleanse and isolate your plants first, a lesson learned from experience!
  3. Arranging Plants: The art of arranging plants within the enclosure requires thoughtful deliberation. Place them in a way that encourages your iguana’s instinctual behaviors, such as climbing, basking, or hiding. My iguana, Izzy, loves perching on the sturdy fronds of the Nephrolepis exaltata, while the Tradescantia zebrina serves as a perfect hiding spot.
  4. Maintaining Plant Health: Ensure the plants receive adequate light, temperature, and humidity to thrive—elements that conveniently align with your iguana’s needs. The Platycerium bifurcatum, for instance, prefers high humidity and bright, indirect light, much like our scaly friends.
  5. Continuous Adaptation: As an iguana caretaker, always be prepared to learn and adapt. As your iguana grows, its habitat needs will change, requiring an evolving plant selection. In Izzy’s younger days, the lower leaves of Philodendron hederaceum were perfect for climbing. But as he grew bigger, I had to substitute them with more robust plants like Opuntia.


In conclusion, the journey of creating an enriching environment for your pet iguana should be one of mindful exploration and learning. Each of the nine plant species we discussed—Sansevieria trifasciata, Philodendron hederaceum, Tradescantia zebrina, Platycerium bifurcatum, Aechmea recurvata, Nephrolepis exaltata, Epipremnum aureum, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, and Opuntia—plays a unique role in establishing a healthy and engaging habitat for your iguana. Each plant not only offers aesthetic appeal, but also contributes to the functional ecosystem of your iguana’s enclosure.

The journey does not stop at merely identifying iguana safe plants. It’s imperative to thoroughly research each plant, ensuring its safety and appropriateness for your iguana’s unique requirements. Remember, our ultimate goal is to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible to optimize your pet’s health and wellbeing.

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