Building a Uromastyx Garden Part 3: Add Plants

Once we had the yard dug up, it was time to add visual appeal: the garden plants!

Uromastyx Safe Plants

Mexican Blue Sage, Desert Marigold, Red Yarrow, Rock Verbena, Dwarf Blue Ruellia, Indian Mallow, Cobalt Sage, Prostrate Germander, Tagetes. Back row: Feather Grass, Blue Fescue

After doing a little more research we decided to ditch the type of Tagetes (French Marigolds) as sometimes the leaves can be irritating, so that will go in our front garden.

We already had 2 hibiscus, a globemallow and some tarragon planted when we went to the Desert Botanical Garden’s Spring Plant Sale, where we got the above plants. We also got a few smaller herbs from the “rescue” bargain bin: more sages, a Brilliant geranium, wormwood and English lavender. And a pineapple mint for myself. :)

Then a trip to Home Depot netted us some more verbena and a bunch of succulents: Echevaria azulita, Zanzibar aloe, Portulacaria afra ‘variegata’ cv, Sedeveria hybrid, Echeveria mazarine, Echevaria ‘perle von nurnberg’ cv.

Safe desert plants for Uromastyx

Installing the new plants!


Desert plants and succulents for Uromastyx

Desert plants and succulents


Uromastyx Garden Plants

More desert plants, sub-tropicals and succulents

The hibiscus are looking kind of sad and yellow, but I think it’s mostly from the stress of transplanting. If they don’t do well, we’ll pot them up and relocate them.

Globemallow, an Arizona native plant

Globemallow, a favorite of Desert Tortoises


Geranium, verbena, echeveria, sage (salvia)

Geranium, verbena, echeveria, sage


Blue fescue grass for tortoises & Uromastyx

Blue fescue grass, a tortoise favorite


Aloe, a desert subtropical plant

Newly transplanted aloe, parent and pups

We also seeded the following greens, wildflowers and shrubs, most of which are tortoise favorites or other edible plants:

Nastursiums (Tropaeolum majus)
Germander (Teucrium laciniatum)
Borage (Borago officinalis) *
Sweet Mignonette (Reseda odorata) *
Lamb’s lettuce / mache / corn salad (Valerianella locusta)
Orach (Atriplex hortensis) *
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Garden Cress (Lepidium sativum)
Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor)
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) *
Bergamot/Bee Balm (Monarda spp)
Yellow Evening Primrose (Oenothera hookeri)
Missouri Evening Primrose (Oenothera missouriensis)
Mexican Evening Primrose (Oenothera berlandieri)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Chia (Salvia hispanica)
Drummond’s Phlox (Phlox drummondii)
Purple Aster (Aster bigelovii)
Flower-of-an-Hour (Hibiscus trionum)
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Zinnia (Zinnia spp)
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
Sweet Annie (Artemisia annua) *

* denotes a Uromastyx native plant substitute

Only a few sprouts so far, but we’ll reseed again in a week and then followup in the fall for better germination of the cool season plants. We’ll post more later as the garden grows!

Building a Uromastyx Garden Part 2: The Dig

We had a modification in the plans for our Uromastyx garden based on sun exposure, the side yard would not get enough basking lot during the day so we decided to swap the dog play area with the Uromastyx play area.

The first step was to dig up about 4-6 inches of the soil and place natural mineral amendments to the soil. That was a lot of work, so we hired some help but managed to do quite a bit ourselves.

Uromastyx garden remodel: digging up soil

Yard remodel: digging up soil


Uromastyx garden remodel: digging up soil

Side yard dug up

Separating the back and side yard will be a wire mesh fence attached to wooden fence posts. A trench is dug in and filled with river rock to discourage Uros digging under the fence. This is something we’ll be monitoring for effectiveness; we may put a visual barrier up if they try to dig to the other side.

Fence trench

Fence trench


Trench lined with river rock

Fence trench filled with river rock

The next step was contouring the landscape, giving high basking spots and low “stream bed” like areas to offer an area for humid retreats. There is some flat space available on the left as well.

Landscape contouring, hills, swales and flat ground

Landscape contouring: hills, basking spots, stream beds, flat space


Landscaping contours

Contouring: hills and valleys

Next we prep the soil with amendments like epsom salts, boron and lots of gypsum.

Soil amendments: gypsum, boron & epsom salts

Prepping the soil for good plant growth


Soil conditioners and trace minerals

Soil prep: Adding trace minerals and soil conditioners

Next comes adding plants… stay tuned!

The first 2011 Crested Geckos hatch!

The eggs that Li’l Piggins laid on Xmas hatched on St. Patrick’s day!

Meet McJingles and Jolly Pat!

Crested gecko hatching head first

McJingles popping out of the egg


Crested gecko hatchling in incubator

McJingles exploring the incubator


Newly hatched crested gecko, partial pinstripe

Jolly Pat looking fancy with the stuck SuperHatch


Baby crested gecko sitting on hand

Jolly Pat, tiny partial pinstripe hatchling

Their parents are Li’l Piggins and Abraxas.

Lavender & orange harley crested gecko

Li'l Piggins, lavender & orange harlequin


Lavender full pinstripe crested gecko

Abraxas, lavender full pinstripe

We have 2 more clutches, and can’t wait to see how the next babies compare! They are part of our Lavender Pinstripe project, and seems to have produced one flame, possible harlequin and one partial pin so far. Considering Piggs has no pinstriping, it’s interesting to see how strong the pinstripe gene is.

Help! Gecko not eating!

How often do you hear a new gecko owner lament that their crested gecko isn’t eating? I think it’s the number one plea for help in reptile forums. That and questions on morph and why “he’s not sticky”. Some people may be having problems getting them to switch to CGD instead of baby food, or have a gecko that loves crickets but doesn’t seem to be thrilled about the powdered diet.

Hopefully our new “not eating” guide under the Feeding FAQ well help some new folks out!