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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native plants for a lizard terrarium

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Tuesday - October 24, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Wildlife Gardens
Title: Native plants for a lizard terrarium
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My brother is setting up a terrarium for his lizard and wants advice on some species to put in the tank. He wants plants that generally fit the below description. Can you think of anything fairly common and easily obtainable that would fit his descriptions? 1. Foreground plants: one species <5" tall and grasslike (mostly shady area) 2. Midground plants between 5 and 18" either attached to rocks or wood (partly shady area) 3. Rear plant (a single species) fewer than 18" tall (mostly sunny area) 4. Rear glass : attach plants on bark hanging against glass (mosses? adiantum?) I don't know the moisture level of the tank yet so I can't help you with that but maybe fairly moist for at least the foreground plants since he suggested Hydrocotyle for that area.

ANSWER:

1. Foreground plants:
Texas Frogfruit ( Phyla nodiflora) is a possibility for one of the foreground plants. It grows only 3-6 inches high and does well in dry or moist soils.

Meadow Violet (Viola sororia) or Missouri Violet (V. missouriensis), considered the same species by some experts, are also possibilities.

If the terrarium is going to be really moist, he could consider one of the Water Clovers, such as Marsilea macropoda or M. vestita, as well as one of the Pennyworts such as Hydrocotyle umbellata or H. verticillata var. verticillata

Sedges might also work for the foreground although they are likely to grow >5 inches tall.

2. Midground plants:
Sedges would be a good choice for the midground plants. Cedar Sedge (Carex planostachys) grows less than a foot tall and is generally happy in dry soils.

Another sedge possibility is Meadow Sedge (C. perdentata) that does well in both dry or moist soils and grows 12-18 inches high.

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) grow 6-12" high and could also be a good plant for the midground area. It will grow in soil-filled depression in rocks.

3. Rear plants:
Ferns such as Southern Shield Fern (Thelypteris kunthii) that can grow as high as 2-3 feet could be a choice for the rear plant, but it does prefer the shade.

A grass such as Little Bluestem ( Schizachyrium scoparium ) is a possibility for the sunny area.

4. Rear glass:
For plants attached to bark hanging against the glass at the back, he might consider one of the epiphytes such as Ballmoss (Tillandsia recurvata) or Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides).

 

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