Best Live Plants for a Chinese Water Dragon Tank

Live plants are an important part of your Chinese water dragon setup. It is important to use live plants to aid in boosting humidity levels, while providing your dragon with natural space, to boost comfort and health.

Your Chinese water dragon will appreciate the hiding spaces the plants provide, though bear in mind that they can cause damage to live plants.

15 best safe plants for Chinese water dragons
15 best safe plants for Chinese water dragon terrariums

Safe Plants for Chinese Water Dragon Tanks

Microsorum Scolopendrium – ‘Wart Fern’

This fern goes by a number of names and comes from South Africa.

Stems can grow up three or four feet in height with rubbery and smooth leaves. This is a slow growing fern that thrives in moist and well-drained soil.

Do not leave the plant standing in water, the roots will rot. In the Chinese water dragon enclosure, these plants can be attached to small holes and nooks in the background. They will spread and crawl around the vivarium.

These plants are easy to maintain and prune.

Chamaedorea Elegans – Neanthe Bella (Parlor Palm)

This palm can grow up to four feet in height, but it is a slow grower, so it will take some time to get there.

It has thin green leaves and thrives in low to moderate indirect sunlight, enjoying a drier soil between watering.

This is a member of the Araceae family and is native to Guatemala and Southern Mexico.

A low maintenance plant that is easy to care for that can tolerate low light and moderately bright conditions with ease.

Misting the leaves is beneficial to the plant and to helping boost humidity in your Chinese water dragon enclosure.

The palm should never be allowed to sit in water and should only be placed in a well-drained bioactive enclosure.

Ficus Lyrata – Fiddle Leaf Fig

The Fiddle Leaf Fig plant is native to Africa bearing large leaves that enjoys bright and indirect light. They grow in a bush or tree form and are popular due to their low maintenance and easy requirements.

These plants need well-drained soil, roots should never be allowed to sit in water to reduce the risk of rot. This is a large plant and should only be considered for large enclosures.

Aglaonema Favonian

The Algaonema Favonian is known as a Chinese Evergreen and is known for being very easy to care for.

These are flowering plants that come in a host of colors. They feature green leaf edging with heavy pinks and a color.

These plants cannot manage the cold and require moist soil in order to thrive.

When incorporating them into the enclosure, they should be placed at the back and placed directly into the substrate.

This plant is only suitable for large enclosures.

Asplenium Nidus (Antiquum) ‘Victoria’ – ‘Bird’s Nest Fern’

The Birds Nest Fern is native to Hawaii, Asia, Australia, Polynesia, and Madagascar.

They have a tongue-shaped leaf with ruffled edges.

They do grow very large at maturity and prefer indirect light with high humidity levels.

They love moist soil and should only be used in a large terrarium, planted at the back.

You will need to trim the plant, due to its growth and possibly remove and replant as it nears maturity.

Philodendron – Moonlight

The Moonlight is an easy to care for plant that is low in height, very much shrub like with green foliage and bright yellow green leaves when they are opening. The leaves tend to get coarse with age.

This plant enjoys moderate light and moderate watering.

It can grow large and does very well in high humid environments with a well-drained substrate.

The size means you may have to remove it from the terrarium and transplant it at a later stage.

Ficus lyrata ‘Bambino’ – Dwarf Fiddle Leaf Fig

The Dwarf Fiddle Leaf Fig plant is native to Africa and has large leaves that can tolerate bright and indirect light.

These plants grow as a bush or tree and are easy to care for when kept in well-drained soil.

Please note, these plants are known for dropping their leaves and the leaves can brown if exposed to direct sunlight.

These plants can grow up to three feet in height and should only be used in a large enclosure.

Epipremnum aureum ‘Neon’ Pothos

The Neon Pothos is also known as Devil’s Ivy and is yellow in color with shades of coloring. It can grow in high and low light conditions. This is a vine and needs to be planted at the back of the enclosure, directly into the substrate. It will quickly grow, covering any hardscapes and backgrounds. This plant tolerates a host of water conditions and thrives with a damp substrate.

Dracaena Compacta – Janet Craig

This Dracaena Compacta plant comes from Southeast Africa where it is a common houseplant. It is very easy to care for and easily recognized with its dark green leaves of up to four inches in length. This is a slow growing plant, ideal for use in your Chinese water dragon enclosure. It can grow up to six feet at maturity. This plant can grow in moderate and low light conditions, the less light it has the less water it needs. It requires a good draining substrate and high humidity levels. You can leave the plant in the pot at the back of the enclosure or you can place it directly into the substrate.

Croton ‘Petra’ (Codiaeum Variegatum)

This Croton plant offers beautiful colors with leaves ranging from yellows and oranges to red. Native to Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia, the plant has a woody stem and is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to ten feet in height. These plants love humidity. Please note, these plants are sensitive and can go into shock, dropping their leaves when moved. The leaves do grow back quickly, so don’t panic if this happens when planting it in your Chinese water dragon terrarium.

Sansevieria laurentii – Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is also known as the Snake Plant and comes from Sri Lanka, known for its unique shape.

It has long and thick sword-shaped leaves with yellow and twisted edges. This plant has a shallow root system and thrives in lower light conditions.

It does require more water in brighter lighting conditions.

The plant can grow up to three feet in height and is not normally recommended for enclosures.

Ensure that you provide a well-drained substrate to reduce the risk of root rot.

Dracaena Fragrans – Lemon Surprise

The Dracaena are native in Africa and are often common houseplants, due to their being exceptionally easy to care for.

This is a slow growing plant that can reach four feet in height at maturity.

They have long green leaves that twist slightly.

They thrive in moderate to low lit areas and require more water when in brighter conditions.

This plant is best suited to enclosures that provide a well-drained substrate.

The plant can be kept in the pot or planted directly into the substrate.

Begonia Polilloensis

The Begonia Polilloensis is native to the Philippines. It is a shrub like plant that grows in full shade with well-drained soil.

It blooms light pink flowers and can grow up to twelve feet in height, so pruning will be necessary to keep the plant manageable within the terrarium.

These are popular fast growing plants that enjoy humid conditions.

Leaves can vary up to nine inches in length and five inches in width.

They thrive in the terrarium that is moist and humid providing thick foliage in the middle to back of the enclosure.

Fittonia Verschaffeltii ‘Red’ – Nerve Plant

The Nerve Plant can be found in Southern America with heavy veined leaves that look similar to pink netting placed over green leaves.

These plants prefer mostly moist soil and a higher humidity. They grow in indirect light and enjoy the warmth.

They do well in a humid enclosure with a well-draining substrate.

Fittonia Albivenis ‘Mini White’ – Nerve Plant

The mini white nerve plant also comes from South America and has the heavily veined leaves which look similar to white netting placed over green leaves.

These plants can grow up to twelve feet when not pruned properly.

They thrive in a humid environment, loving indirect light.

They need moist soil that is well-drained with good humidity levels.


Putting a bioactive setup together for your Chinese water dragon can be exciting. Proving them with a completely natural enclosure complete with live plants where your new pet can hide and feel secure.

Ensure the plants you choose are suitable for your dragon and hardy, so they can handle the damage your dragon may do to them in the long run.

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