Top 8 beginner VIVARIUM plants!

A lot of us have or want to set up a vivarium but have confusion about which plants to start with?

Here is a comprehensive guide that gives you various prospects about Bromeliads for beginners to start with.

Before we dive in let us quickly understand the two terms Epiphytes and Bromeliads.

What are Bromeliads? The Bromeliaceae is a family of grass and grass-like flowering plants with 3500+ known species that are native to American Tropics, with a few species in American west Africa subtropics.

What are Epiphytes? An epiphyte is a plant organism that grows on host plants to access sunlight and natural ingredients.

Is epiphyte a parasite? The simple answer is No. They are not parasitic in nature, They take no nutrients from the tree or host plants instead but rely on nutrients from the air, rain, compost that lies on trees.

Read more about ‘Ariums’ Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludariums and other ‘Ariums

Aechmea Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

Aechmea Epiphytes Vivarium plants
Blooming Aechmea fasciata (Silver vase or Urn plant) is a species of flowering plant in the bromeliad family

Plants of this genus are among the most popular bromeliads seen for sale; the species most commonly available in the US is A. fasciata. 

This species is often seen in supermarkets, with its gray-green leaves sprinkled with white powdery scales, and its inflorescence composed of stiff pink bracts (flower spike). 

Its slightly spiny-edged leaves form a large watertight cup, perfect for a tadpole nursery.  Another species that holds a lot of water is A. fulgens; this species carries red berries for a long time on its inflorescence. 

The variety discolor has wine-red undersides to its leaves.  Unfortunately, these plants are too large for most vivariums, reaching almost two feet across.

Smaller species are A. gamosepalous, which has round-ended leaves arranged in a rather tubular rosette, and lavender-blue berry-like flowers,

A. recurvarta and its varieties, which don’t hold much water but are a sturdy and attractive contrast with their narrow-pointed leaves.

Aechmeas like a bright light to maintain their firm leaf growth and they grow well epiphytically.

Nearly Natural Tropical Bromeliad in Angled Vase, 8", Red
  • Use as a centerpiece against a mirrored surface
  • Includes a modern slanted glass vase
  • Realistic bromeliad bloom
  • Uses quality handcrafted materials
  • Item may need to be re-shaped when removed from box

Billbergia or Queen’s tears Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

Billbergia Vivarium Plants for beginners
Stock photo showing an elevated view of white plant pots planted up with bromeliad house plants.

This is another kind of bromeliad that grows well in terrariums; they are especially hardy and fast growers.  Queen’s Tears, B. nutans, is an old favorite. 

Their flower stems don’t last very long but are attractive, often looking like they have pink or red streamers tied to their stalks. 

Leaves also have very attractive patterns.

How To Take Care Of Billbergia Plant?

Billbergias don’t have many leaves per plant, but they can quickly form thick clumps. Several types can hold a lot of water, making them potential frog nurseries. 

Most varieties grow rather large like the Aechmeas, but some hybrids form very compact tubes that could fit in well in a vivarium.

Bright lighting keeps them more compact and maintains leaf color as well.

Cryptanthus Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Cryptanthus
Epiphytes Vivarium plants
Cryptanthus elaine in garden

Popularly known as earth stars, they are popular vivarium plants due to their small size and non-water-holding cup characteristic

They are mostly terrestrial plants and do better planted in a well-draining substrate rather than as epiphytes.  They also prefer bright light to maintain their colors.

C. bivittatus has leaves with lengthwise stripes, sometimes pink or red depending on the variety. C. fosteranus and C. zonatus both have leaves with silvery crossbars on dark backgrounds.

Sprig & Stone Bromeliad Soil (1 Quart)
  • SPECIFIC BLEND of potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark for growing Bromeliads in your home
  • FAST-DRAINING soil prevents soggy roots, which is common in pot grown Bromeliads
  • PROVIDES STRUCTURE for the roots to grab so that the plant will remain upright
  • LITTLE SOIL NEEDED as Bromeliads have small root systems and only need small pots
  • MORE SOILS from Sprig & Stone! We also offer soils for Christmas Cacti, Cacti, Carnivorous Plants, Gesneriads, Rhipsalis, African Violets, Succulents, Orchids, and Tropical Plants!

Guzmania Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Guzmania
Epiphytes Vivarium plants

Very popular houseplants because they can tolerate lower light levels than many other bromeliads.

Their upright flower stems are brightly colored and very long lasting as well, and their soft leaves are spineless and perfectly safe for the frogs.

G. lingulata and its many varieties make good terrarium plants because of their relatively compact stature. 

There are also many hybrids that are commonly available.

Costa Farms Flowering Bromeliad Live Indoor Plant Fresh from Our Farm 12-Inches Tall, in White-Natural Décor Planter, Great Gift
  • Height at shipping is approximately 12-inches tall, measured from the bottom of the pot to the top of the plant. Ships in a 4-inch diameter décor pot.
  • Grow Bromeliad in bright, indirect sunlight for the best growth and enjoy!
  • Water Bromeliad with approximately 1/2 cup of water about once a week. Adjust as needed for your environment.
  • Air-purifying. Plants help filter harmful pollutants from indoor air

Neoregelia Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Neoregelia
Beautiful bromeliad isolated on white

These plants are very popular as well, with their brightly colored low-growing rosettes.

N. carolinae is a popular houseplant in its variegated form, cv.

Tricolor-LLIFLE, is very attractive with green leaves striped with white and tinged with pink. 

Like most Neoregelias, its central leaves turn bright red when it is in flower. N. cv.

Fireball is a popular vivarium subject with dark burgundy leaves in good light, and numerous offsets or “pups” on short stolons. 

I have rooted this form in small cups of water showing how adaptable this plant is. 

It is a compact plant, but even smaller are N. ampullacea and N. tigrina, which look like little green test tubes with reddish spots and stripes. 

Neoregelias do not form flowering stems but produce their flowers directly in their central cups.

Bromeliad Soil Planting Soil, Hand Blended All Natural Potting Mix for Planting, Growing, or Repotting Bromeliad, Potting Soil for Bromeliad, Small Batch Hand Blended 8QT Size Bag
  • Hand Blended Small Batch Soil and Potting Mixes- Each of our soils are hand blended in small batches using the best all natural ingredients to ensure premium product and results.
  • Nutrient Specific to Your Plants Needs- In order to stand out from the competition we mix niche specific soils that cater to a plants needs, each blend is curated to correctly provide the nutrients, drainage, and growth environment for your Bromeliad Soil. While other all purpose soils may not kill your plant, our soils will allow them to thrive!
  • Zipper Bag Packaging- Each of our hand blended soils, in whatever quantity you choose, always ship fresh, recently blended, and in zipper bags for storage and reuse later.
  • Ships Fast- All of our premium soil products are sold direct to consumer exclusively on Amazon, providing all the benefits of The Amazon Customer Experience. Make you and your plant happy.
  • No Added Fertilizers- We don’t ever add synthetic fertilizers to our soil mixes. Many national brand soils have added fertilizers to aid growth. While this can be helpful, we prefer an all natural approach allowing you to add your own fertilizer should you so choose.

Nidularium Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Nidularium Plant?
Idyllic Bromeliad Flower head Nidularium blossom bloom, Botanical family: Bromeliaceae – Tropical plants in Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

It is a similar genus that also forms low-growing rosettes. Nidularims can tolerate low light levels and still grow well. 

They are mostly green, but the central leaves turn red when the plants are ready to flower,

The branch forms a short stem and can last for several months adding a nice spot of color to your terrarium.

Grow More 5118 Bromeliad Tillandsia Food 17-8-22, 1.25-Pound
  • Bromeliad
  • Tillandsia food
  • Premium quality
  • Use indoor or outdoor for showy flowers in branched leaf clusters and handsomely marked flower clusters
  • 17-8-22

Tillandsia Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How do you take care of a Tillandsia air plant?
Tillandsia plant holding in garden

Also Known as the airplants, they have the most varied growth forms among the bromeliads, ranging in the wide-leafed rosettes to whispy mosslike forms. 

They can roughly divide the genus into two groups based on their preferred growing conditions:  mesic and xeric. 

The mesic species, like T. cyanea and T. complanata, prefer moist conditions and can hold some water in their rosettes.  Xeric species prefer dryer conditions and will die without good air circulation. 

Are Tillandsia epiphytes?

Most Tillandsia species are considered epiphytes its meaning refers to ‘upon a plant‘.

How do you take care of a Tillandsia air plant?

Tillandsias can be easily glued by their bases to branches, even upside-down. 

In fact, the inverted position can prevent xeric types from rotting by preventing water from collecting on their leaves. 

Mesic, Xeric & Hydric Air Plants

Xeric species have slivery hairs or scales that cover their leaves, which the plants use to absorb atmospheric moisture. 

Their hairs have to dry out between waterings, or the plant will suffocate.

These forms count among the true air plants surviving and growing even without being firmly attached to anything at all. 

T. ionantha is a xeric species that does well in vivariums, and its little clumps of pointed green leaves turn red when the plant is flowering.

What are xeric plants?

The Term xeric came to light in the early 1980s. Referring to a variety of vivarium plants that live in extreme dry conditions is called as “Drought Plant”.

These plants only require a small amount of moisture to flourish like a normal one. hence became popular among paludarium enthusiasts.

The Drunken Gnome Tillandsia Air Plant Food and Fertilizer for Enhanced Growth, Color and Blooms (8 oz Plus Mister)
  • 8 OZ Air Plants Food & Fertilizer Plus Mister Set includes 1 ready-to-use air plant fertilizer in 8oz hand pump spray bottle and 1- 8oz hand pump Mister Spray bottle.
  • Easy to Use Fill 8oz Hydrate Mister Spray Bottle with water and mist your plants frequently to keep them looking their best! Spray air plants with fertilizer 1-2x per week during regular watering. (Bottle will ship empty)
  • Makes a Great Gift for all air plant enthusiasts! Perfect for Christmas Holiday, Secret Santa, corporate office gifts, birthday presents, holiday gift baskets, college student gifts or simply treat yourself, your tillandsia air plants will thank you!
  • Here to Help Questions? No problem! Just message us and we will happily respond with tips, advice and information about successfully keeping air plants!
  • Promote Growth, color and blooms with our special blend of Tillandsia Air Plant and Bromeliad fertilizer & Hydration bottle set. Plants not included.

Vriesea Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Care For A Vriesea Plant (Flaming Sword)
vriesea multi flowers Astrid, flaming sword flowers, tropical plant species from America

It is another popular houseplant, and most species and hybrids do well in relatively low light levels like we find in our vivariums.

Like Guzmanias their leaves are usually soft and spineless.

V. splendens, with its dark-striped, green leaves and flaming red flower spike, is spectacular and often seen for sale in supermarket flower shops. 

Smaller varieties often have plain green leaves, but their paddle-shaped flower spikes always provide a long-lasting splash of color and make them easily recognizable.

Varieties such as ‘Julie,’ ‘Mon Petit’ and ‘Pinkert’ stay on the small side.

10 more Easy Vivarium Plants that I recommend

Pothos Plant

different kinds of pothos available in the market there’s like

  • golden pothos
  • marbled queen
  • Cebu blue
  • pearls and Jade neon

Common nerve plant or Fattonia

it’s pretty much bulletproof grow in low light conditions and is native of South America.

The creeping fig

ficus pumila is basically a fast-growing vining plant that is adapted to subtropical and tropical climates in landscaping.

Moranto or the prayer plant

Moran Toluca Noura is a super common plant we can find in garden centers, grocery stores, and gateways.

It grows really well in a dart frog tank and tolerates low light conditions.

Dendron scandens (Hartley philodendron)

grows really well in gecko tanks, no high light conditions are required for it.

it uses whatever humidity is available hence, an easy vining plant that we can grow in backgrounds.

Pylea spruce Jana

An easy-growing plant that shifts upstairs in a pot requires watering once a week, no need for insanely high light and humidity makes it a favorite choice.

Rex Begonias

Cultivars out there prefer growing this plant, in a terrarium, they’re gonna get massive hence.

Available in many different colors, pick the color you like and throw it in your tank if you have large tanks.

Peperomia Obtuse

There are a ton of different varieties available,

They all grow very similarly they typically tolerate the relatively low amount of light and loves humidity.

Their Durable Leaves is what red-eyed tree frogs even dart frogs like.

NeoGeo bromeliads

Are a lot cheaper variants in the USA and Canada varying from 15-30$

Pylea phyla dendron peperomia

These do well in vivarium ‘z terrariums and in a controlled environment, they’re even used as a house plant.

For Further Reading

Here is an interesting article about vivarium substates Best Substrate Mixtures for the Vivarium. (And How to make it)

An article about how ways to keeps vivarium plants healthy What plants can I put in a vivarium? (How to keep them Alive)

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