How To Grow Grass In Home For Your Tortoise?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Most owners spend hundreds of dollars yearly to buy fresh greens for their tortoises. Yet, there is no guarantee that the grass or weed are grown without pesticides and are safe. The best solution to this problem is to grow grass and other greens for tortoises in the home garden. 

Steps to grow grass in the home for tortoises:

  1. Collect seeds.
  2. Throw the seeds on the seed tray filled with damp topsoil.
  3. Cover the tray with soil and water lightly.
  4. Wrap the tray with a plastic sheet.
  5. Water the soil every day until the seedlings are ready to be reported. 
  6. Transfer the seedlings to the garden.

Catch more details in the article below. 

A Guide For Growing Grass In Your Tortoise Garden (Step-By-Step)

Tortoises are big fans of grass. But feeding them only grass makes no sense, and the pets will eventually get bored. Therefore, experts suggest adding other vegetables and a variety of grasses to the meal. 

So, if you decide to grow grass, try out 2 or 3 different plants aside to get a whole meal. The gardening and caring process of the greens are almost similar. Thus, you do not have to work twice or take the extra hassle. 

Go through the following steps to find out how I grow grass and other plants for my tortoise, 

1. Plan Your Garden 

Letā€™s start from scratch.

You need to prepare your backyard soil for a home garden. A greenhouse is a better option when you live in a cold region. If you do not have enough space, you can plan vertical gardening with a minimum arrangement. 

Some people build the garden inside the tortoise enclosure. This way, the pet can enjoy the fresh leaves, plants, and grass whenever hungry, just like in the wild.

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But planning an in-house garden can be difficult, considering the tortoise will chew up the baby plants.

Anyway, if you still insist, plan for a pen-come garden that is spacious enough for tortoises. The pet must not get interrupted while moving around inside the enclosure. For example, you would need a minimum of 100 square feet of land to accommodate a garden in the Sulcata tortoise habitat. 

Do not forget to fence the area. Make sure the tortoise can not escape via a burrowing tunnel or jump above the fence. The traditional steps of building a tortoise house will come in handy for you. 

Now, you do not need to get into any of these hassles if you want to keep the tortoise habitat and garden separate. Just prepare a small piece of land and its topsoil for the plantation, and you will be good to go. 

Here are little tips to prepare the garden soil, 

  1. Loose the soil up to 10 inches to make enough room for the roots. 
  2. Add organic compost to the soil to increase fertility. In no case, add pesticides or chemicals to the soil. 
  3. Allow enough ventilation and sunlight to the soil. 
  4. Water the ground regularly to improve soil health.
How Long Can A Tortoise Go Without Food

2. What Grass and Plants You Want?

It takes time to prepare the topsoil for planting. In the meantime, you should decide on the plants you want for the tortoise garden. Of course, the greens should be safe and nutritious for the tortoises. 

Remember, the tortoise diet includes moderate protein, high fiber, and low-calorie greens. Moreover, the plants and grass must have a controlled amount of phosphorus and oxalate. 

Hence, I suggest you go through the list of safe grass for tortoises. Some safe grass options for them are, 

  • Arizona Fescue
  • Blue grama
  • Carex grass
  • Barley grass
  • Rye grass
  • Timothy grass
  • Dallisgrass 
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fescue grass
  • Big bluestem grass
  • Little bluestem grass
  • Buffalo grass
  • Sheep fescue
  • Creeping red fescue
  • Lawn fescue
  • Couch grass 
  • Pampas grass
  • Wheatgrass 
  • Western wheatgrass
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Safe plant options for tortoises are, 

  • Plantain 
  • Zinia 
  • Lemon balm 
  • Forget me not 
  • Gazania 
  • Pot marigold
  • Dandelion 
  • Lettuce 
  • Geraniums 
  • Cornflower
  • Musk mallow 
  • Milk thistle 
  • Hosta 
  • Turtle vine 
  • Pansy 
  • Red clover
  • Osteospermum 
  • White clover
  • Aloe vera 
  • Hibiscus 
  • Sainfoin 
  • Livingston daisy
  • Kidney weed
  • Nasturtium 
  • Cactus pads 
  • Rose 
  • Sea holly 
  • Primrose 
  • Tufted vetch 
  • Hebe 
  • Hedge woundwort 
  • Lumb lettuce 
  • Chicory, etc. 

Of course, there are hundreds more options available for your tortoises. You can choose the ones that take less maintenance and are easier to grow. 

N.B. By growing greens, I am indicating plants and grass only. Vegetables do not count. 

3. Collect Seeds From A Reliable Source

Find a local vendor, store, or any seller to collect the desired seeds for your tortoise garden. Nowadays, seeds are also available in online shops. 

You can buy seeds in bulk or at the minimum portion. Some seeds offer an excellent germination period of over 3 years if stored correctly. Therefore, overbuying will not be an issue if you plan to build a solid garden for your pet tortoises.

In any case, make sure the seeds are of good quality. Otherwise, they will not germinate. 

4. Preparing The Seeds 

Seed trays will come in handy at this stage. You can use small plastic cups too as an alternative. 

Fill the tray with loose topsoil you have prepared for the garden. The soil must contain enough water content to feed the seeds. Water the ground daily to attain the optimum moisture percentage. 

Next, throw the seeds on the topsoil. 3/5 seeds on each compartment will do just fine.

Now, tuck the seeds with some soil and gently settle them on each cup. A light spray the soil to move to the next step. And yes, do not forget to use name tags on each compartment if you have used multiple plant seeds.

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Finally, cover the tray with plastic wrapping and move it under direct sunlight. You need to water the soil and keep the plastic lid until the seedlings come out. 

Check on the seeds to track the progress every day. Before watering the soil, wipe off the condensation accumulated on the plastic cover. The water droplets are harmful to the seedlings. 

Within 3/4 weeks, you will notice seedlings popping out of the seeds. Let them grow until they develop a firm root. 

Of course, you can not expect all the seeds to germinate. Remember, the success ratio depends on 4 factors. Such as, 

  • Light 
  • Heat
  • Water
  • Seed quality 

Your seed batch will waste if any parameters are out of balance.

5. Report The Seedlings 

Your seedlings are ready to be reported once they have grown taller and wider. Now you need to dig small holes in the garden yard to house the seedling. 

Use a butter knife to prick the seedling from the tray with the existing soil. Then gently transfer the package to the newly prepared hole and tamp the soil. Water the ground every day and watch the plants thrive. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What Grasses Are Safe For Tortoises? 

Grasses with high fiber, high moisture content, low calorie, low oxalate, and phosphorus are safe for tortoises. For example, alfalfa, bermudagrass, ryegrass, fescue, Arizona grass, sow thistle, etc., suit the tortoise diet

Q. What Is The Best Grass Seed For Tortoises? 

Feeding the tortoises just one type of grass is not a good idea. Instead, growing mixed seeds to bring variety to the tortoise diet is always suggested. Considering this, you will get the most benefit from the barley grass or catā€™s grass seeds.

Before You Go

You should check out the suitable plants for turtle enclosure too.

Can you add plants to the turtle habitat?

What are the best plants for turtle ponds?

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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