Tortoise garden


Mar 10, 2014
Once the weather warms up (delaware) I am going to be planting an outdoor tortoise garden / enclosure . I would love everyone's opinion on a bunch of different aspects of this project .

Just some background info - this garden will be for my sulcata & leopard with separate sections for both . I want to include lots of edible plants , sunning rocks , in-ground soaks & a hide . I want to do a half circle shape so I can build against my back fence and put a few chairs around the rounded part so we can enjoy watching them . I also want to have a fenced area of grass they can graze probably right off to the side of the garden . It will probably only be used this summer & next so it won't be huge - we will be moving to another family property soon & then have space to do a year round outdoor housing when they are big enough to require it .

This is not going to be outdoor housing just a garden they can hang in & enjoy the natural sunshine .

So first and foremost - PLANTS & FLOWERS . I have a list of safe & edible but would really like some insight on what your tortoises really seem to enjoy . I want this to be their garden of Eden without the forbidden fruit ofcourse ! I also want both tortoises to have access to each plant so I will be doing two of everything unless there are plants that are only safe for one (I haven't come across anything like that yet) also safe soil? And is there any harm in using already started plants over seeds ?


The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 9, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Plants bought from a nursery or hardware store will be full of systemic pesticides. Theses things are absorbed into the plant's tissues and can last a year. This is the advantage of starting from seed. If you can find plants already started somewhere that you are 100% sure are pesticide free, its not a bad way to go.

Lots of seeds here: Especially their "Premium Pasture Mix". That stuff is the best I have ever seen.

Also look here: Tyler's "Testudo Mix" is FANTASTIC.

Other than that, I really like grape vines, rose of sharon, hibiscus, spineless opuntia cactus, aloe, lavatera... The list is endless.
Oh also try to get some "Plantain". The weed, not the little bananas. Collect and spread lots of dandelion or other weed seeds seeds in there too. For pretty flowers I like nasturtiums, pansies, roses, gazania, carnations, etc. You can also do any of the hibiscus, hostas, or clovers and alfalfa too.


Wanna be raiser of Lemon Drop tortoises
10 Year Member!
Aug 28, 2007
Location (City and/or State)
A Land Far Away...
As long as the plants have not been raised in soil or sprayed with chemicals they are safe.

Some of my "must haves" other then the grasses, dandelion, clovers, plantain and other weed type plants are:

Any type of hibiscus. This could be Althea/Rose of Sharon bush, the tropical bushes, or the hardy bush. Leaves and blooms can both be fed.

Grape vines are wonderful! Any variety will work. You just feed the tortoises the leaves. I have some growing on the fences and things, but others I leave growing on the ground for ease of leaf grazing.

Daylilies. These I love because they are so hardy, you can even forget the to actually plant them and they will just grow on the surface of the ground. :rolleyes: They come in a wide variety of colors, so visually pleasing to humans. The tortoises love the blooms and the leaves make wonderful places for the smaller tortoises to get under for shade/shelter.

Roses. I like roses not just because the tortoises can eat the blooms and leaves, but because I love the smell some of them make and the colors.

Mulberry tree/bush. These you can trim to grow in any size or shape you want as they are so hardy and fast growing. The leaves are well loved. Less mess if you go with the seedless ones, unless you like eating mulberries.

Sedums. Once more a wide wide variety to choose from.

Cactus. Get the ones with few thorns. Both the cactus and it's fruit are geed to feed. Cactus are one of the best foods to feed in my humble opinion.

For young tortoises, I like to grow the bush types of melons, cucumbers, and squashes. The blooms are great to feed and those plants are wonderful hides. You can feed the leaves, but atleast here they are not a loved item. I like to grow turnips, collards, and other greens as well.

You know, I hate to start these lists because I can just keep going on and on. Petunias, rose moss, geesh just pick some of your favorite flowers and look them up to see if they are safe (and most are).