How to Care for Foreground Plants in the Tropical Vivarium

At Josh’s Frogs, we carry a wide array of vivarium-suitable live terrarium plants. You may have noticed many are described as ‘foreground plants’ in their description. This means that these tropical vivarium plants are best suited to be planted in the middle 1/3rd of the vivarium, where they will receive adequate light.

Foreground Plants

As the name implies, foreground plants will grow will grow with a short or matting habit, staying lower than many other live plants in a vivarium. As such, these foreground plants should be planted in the middle 1/3rd or so in the vivarium, so that they do not get shaded out by taller growing background plants, and do not press up against the front glass, giving the vivarium an over planted, crowded look. Foreground plants tend to be primarily for looks – they pull the background plants together with the more sparsely planted foreground and leaf litter.

Foreground plants are best planted in the middle 1/3rd of a naturalistic vivarium.

Most foreground plants will grow with a low, matting habit. Some foreground plants, such as the larger Cryptanthus, get taller, but have fairly sparse foliage that does not block the view of the background. Please keep in mind that size is relative, and many of the live vivarium plants Josh’s Frogs has labeled as foreground plants are suitable foreground plants for the average vivarium, and may be planted differently in larger vivaria.

A wide variety of Cryptanthus are available in the hobby.

Planting a foreground plant in a naturalistic vivarium is very simple, and best done after the background plants have been planted. To do so, just follow the steps below:

  1. Wash the foreground plant, removing all soil and substrate the plant may have been shipped in.

  2. Using your hand, scoop out a bit of substrate where you wish to plant your foreground plant in the vivarium.

  3. Gently place the foreground plant in the depression, and cover the roots with substrate.

  4. Water heavily initially, to help the plant to acclimate.


Foreground plants have a special place in the naturalistic vivarium. Foreground plants are vital to the overall look and health of a vivarium, and serves to connect the different areas of a naturalistic vivarium together, resulting in a finished, lush tropical look. Josh’s Frogs carries a wide variety of chemical free live terrarium plants that are perfectly suited for use in a naturalistic vivarium.

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