Guideline for Reptile Plants
Choosing reptile plants can be maddening with live or fake options; big or small, light or shade loving. It is not as easy as it would seem as you must pick ones that will survive the environmental needs of your reptile. Larger herbivores or omnivores carry a good amount of weight and can easily uproot your best laid plans-or worse, eat them. If you do have a plant eater you must choose plants that will not harm your pet.
People mistakenly believe all animals know instinctively what they can or can not eat. In its natural habitat this may be the case, but when you take them out of their native territory their instincts cease to be useful. In its native environment an animal does know what it can or cannot eat and if it makes a mistake it gets sick and will not eats that plant again. In its new world it is hit and miss as it nibbles for what tastes good.
Your pet has no way to know which of the reptile plants you choose are completely toxin, which are only toxic in large quantities, which only have parts that are toxic (leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, etc.) and which are safe. It is totally at the mercy of your choices for them. Some good all around choices might be pothos, dracaenas, ficus, or philodendron trees. Spider plants are perfect for hanging. They give a dramatic appearance as well as providing some seclusion (which they need) if they are placed correctly. In some cases artificial leaves and/or vines could prove a better choice.
You will need to set up some climbing areas for your pet which is where your choice of reptile plants will be most appreciated. You can go out for some natural ones if you take into consideration the width and length of your pet; and that most natural driftwood type pieces are more than likely full of parasites too small for you to see but not so small they can not hurt your reptile.
If you need a natural looking cage use grapevine or hardwoods that have been dried several months and cleaned thoroughly. Remember, to check for toxicity of reptile plants and then position them around the edges of the cage or strategically to provide a refuge. This way you will cut down on the possible damage to live plants.
Many herbivore or omnivore owners choose their reptile plants from both-artificial on the bottom of the cage and up the climbing areas but use a half dozen to a dozen (depends on size of cage) live plants that hang down-for interest and variety. Consider man made half logs. Snakes love hiding in them and laying under a light to bask on top of them.
If you do choose live reptile plants and fix a basking area your light will be important for proper thermo-regulation. Run UVB fluorescents or grow lights the length of the cage.
Hibiscus are good choices-they are reptile hardy, grow well in artificial lighting and if kept in pots (along with other plants used in the cage) they can be switched or taken out altogether when they need some regeneration time. All parts of the plant are safe as well.