Zoya’s good gardening guide! (info collected from actual experts)
Been getting a lot of asks about what plants to put in a tortoise garden so I figured I’d address them in one post.
Gardens are great for tortoises. Real sun is much stronger than any bulbs you can buy and works far better for healthy growth, calcium metabolism, and activity level. Its good stuff. If your tortie doesn’t get outside you’ll be shocked at how much the sun gets them going. (they are also great for stressed out humans that need to focus on something else).
Directly in Zoya’s pen I have petunias, Marigolds, Pansies, and an English Daisy plant. I had a romaine lettuce plant but it disappeared in 2 seconds (eaten up I’m guessing).
My recent foray into food gardening has me growing “diet” plants (lettuces, raddiccio, kale, etc) outside the garden itself in containers. They won’t really have a chance to survive if they’re in the stomping ground/ den of nom noms. I do plant petunias in the garden and she definitely eats those up like candy (almost as good as dandelions).
When choosing plants, the first thing to do is research edible plants particular to your species. Zoya is a Russian Tortoise’ and I’ve been lucky to have a great web resource provided by Joe Heinen.
Another incredible resource is The Tortoise Table – Edible plant database for multiple species with pictures and identification help! (Follow them on Twitter! @TortoiseTable )
Carolina Pet Supply (The best place for supplements, substrate, and specified plants) sells an awesome seed pack for those capable of getting seeds to sprout.
Seasons and location make a difference but theres got to be something on the lists thats easy to grow near you.
Make sure to use organic / chemical free seeds, soil, and similarly grown seedlings when you plant. You don’t want chemicals in your torties food or garden. Make sure you only use top soil or coconut coir in the garden, no soil with vermiculite, any fertilizers, etc as it can be bad for them.
If your garden is in a box of some sort make sure theres a hide in there so if the sun is beating down, your torties have the ability to dig down and/or crawl in the shade.
Good luck and happy gardening! (Soon we can start a pool on how quickly plants get eaten hah)