Maple Leaf Rock: A Complete Guide

Maple Leaf Rock for Terrarium

One of the most gorgeous hardscape pieces in the terrarium landscape


  1. What is Maple Leaf Rock?
  2. Where Can I Buy Maple Leaf Rock?
  3. What Are the Benefits of Using Maple Leaf Rock?
  4. 4 Ways to Use Maple Leaf Rock in a Terrarium

I will explain everything you need to know about Maple Leaf Rock, where you can find it online, and how you can use it inside your terrarium designs.

Let's get started!

What is Maple Leaf Rock?

Light and shadow play an important role in highlighting the beautiful features of this stone. 

1 | What is Maple Leaf Rock?

Maple Leaf Rock (or Maple Leaf Stone) is a reddish/brown stone commonly used in terrarium design and aquascaping. 

It has a colourful and porous surface, with holes and grooves laced together by thin strands of stone. 

It is a widely available hardscape material and pairs well with other textured rocks such as Dragon stone.

2 | Where Can I Buy Maple Leaf Rock?

Whether you're in the UK or US (or nearby, in either case!), you can readily find Maple Leaf Stone (and some neat alternatives) on Etsy.

If you're struggling to find it available, find your nearest aquarium shop and see if they've got something in store for you. 

2.1 | Alternatives to Maple Leaf Rock

If you're looking to broaden your rocky horizons, look no further than Dragon Stone. Slightly more available, and a gorgeous alternative to Maple Leaf Rock. 

Whatsmore, we have it in stock ourselves, hoorah! 

3 | What Are the Benefits of Using Maple Leaf Rock?

1. It’s Inert:

Maple Leaf Rock is inert, meaning it will not chemically impact the other materials it comes into contact with. 

This is especially important in aquascaping, where slight alterations in PH balance or chemical composition can mean life or death for your inhabitants. 

It can, however, slightly increase the hardness of your water.

I always recommend checking the requirements for your enclosure before making a purchase that could alter the balance. 

Terrarium Rocks

You will undoubtedly need a hammer and chisel to break apart this rock. 

2. It Breaks Down Easily:

When shopping for hardscape materials, you may be tempted to purchase a few kilograms at a time to stock up and save money. 

You'll often receive a HUGE stone in the post that you quickly realise can't easily be broken down with a simple hammer and chisel.

Fortunately, Maple Leaf Rock does not usually present this issue

The stone's porous nature means it is less dense and easier to break apart into smaller pieces if it suits your design.

However, it's not the most brittle of rocks. That's what makes Dragon Stone so versatile!

Just make sure to use gloves and goggles if you're smashing up this stone. Or if you're smashing up anything, really. 

3. It's Porous:

Holey stones are great for terrariums.

The little nooks and crannies give your plants and mosses ample opportunity to grow into and around your surfaces. 

This will, over time, create an organic aesthetic which looks more 'natural' and less manufactured.

Plus, it's cool to see moss slowly take over the stone!

As a bonus, porous stone can help draw moisture away from plants if the terrarium has been overwatered. 

Buy Maple Leaf Stones

Check out the inside of this Maple Leaf Rock - it's full of quartz crystals!

4. Amazing Colours

Not all stones are created equal. 

Some offer unique textures; others impress with rich colours.

Maple Leaf Rock does both.

If you're lucky, you can even find smatterings of sparkling white quartz crystals. These are usually hidden on the interior of the stone.

The intense and shimmering colouration of this stone brightens up your terrarium space and draws in the eye.

4 | Four Ways to Use Maple Leaf Rock in a Terrarium

1. Don’t be Afraid to Smash

More significant pieces of Maple Leaf Rock can often be broken down into smaller chunks.

Take hold of a hammer and chisel, don some protective gear, and find a suitable crevice to insert your utensils.

Consider using something like a workbench to clamp down the stone while you break it into pieces.

Cascade Effect Stone

An example of the cascade effect. This can be made much more dramatic with larger glassware. 

2. Use The Cascade Effect

I am a big fan of something I like to call the cascade effect

Let me show you how to do it. 

Take one of your larger pieces and place it near the back of your design.

Place increasingly smaller pieces in increasing numbers downwards below your largest, cascading towards the front of the design.

This is a technique to achieve a realistic, mountainous effect. 

3. Compliment The Stone with Moss

I mentioned earlier that your flora could take advantage of the rock’s porous nature in your terrarium. 

But you don’t have to wait. 

Take a small clump of moss in hand, something like Dicranum scoparium or Leucobryum glaucum.

Using some scissors, trim off the rhizoids.

Take your tweezers and gently place the moss in between the crevices of your Maple Leaf Rock. 

Repeat this process, and your stone suddenly comes alive!

And if you’re worried about the moss, don’t. Moss takes nutrients from its leaves, so it doesn't need any substrate to sit in as long as you keep it adequately damp.

  • Pro tip: Java moss works adheres to surfaces especially effectively. 

4. Attach Plants to Your Rock

Now we’re playing God. 

Take a rooted cutting of a plant, such as Fittonia

Wrap the roots in damp soil until it has a malleable, almost putty-like texture. A clay-based soil will aid in getting a putty consistency. 

Push and mould the soil base into the stone’s cracks.

You may need to ensure your plant isn't so top-heavy that it will collapse once you've taken away your hands.

To prop up larger plants, consider using some temporary tie such as a vine to hold the stem in place while it attaches itself to the rock. 

Cave Terrarium Stone

Break down your stone first, then experiment with three pieces to find the right combination.

Create More Depth with a Cave

As this stone is easily broken down, you can have some fun with the smaller pieces. 

A fantastic way to create a little depth, mystery and scale to your terrarium or vivarium design is with a cave.

I personally love creating 'scenic' terrariums, I find customers prefer them too!

Buy Stone for Terrariums

Check out little cave entrace! Affix moss to the stone for an especially 'ancient' look.

And I'll tell you exactly how to make one.

It's simple:

  1. First, you’ll need three pieces of your rock. They all need to have a little bit of height on them - relative to the size of the space you’re working with. 
  2. Inside your terrarium, create a sloped area of substrate where the soil is higher at the back and shallower at the front. 
  3. Place your three-stone pieces in an 'n' formation. You should have two pieces parallel to one another and the final one on top. This formation needs to be leant up against the sloped substrate. 
  4. Now, take a paintbrush and gently pull the substrate out from inside the centre of your structure. 

You’ll now have a simple cave-like doorway!

Over to You

Well, that’s a rock-solid analysis of one of my favourite stones.

Have I missed anything? Or do you have any burning questions?

Let me know below, and I'll get back to you ASAP.


- Joe 

1 comment

  • nico c

    Are these safe for a ball python? I got maple leaf stone and dragon stone, they both crumble very easily. Will this be a problem for snakes breathing and habitat?

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