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Ask Me About My Plants: Shy

Urban Jungle Journal Header

Ask Me About My Plants – Shy

Pothos hanging from ceiling in apartment.

Hey. It’s Shylah.
Welcome to my space. :)

I live in a loft downtown with my daughter Mylah and our collection of about 45 houseplants. Our collection started only about a month before we opened Art Terrarium last year.

My history with houseplants prior to opening the Art Terrarium was a relationship filled with total misunderstanding and disconnect (plus a sad series of dead plants).  I’d certainly have grouped myself in with many of you that express frustration about having a supposed black thumb.
During one of our zillion trips to Home Depot while preparing to open the shop- Mylah requested to take home a plant. I laugh now at my immediate reaction of hesitation and concern about keeping it alive because it’s really not unlike the lack of confidence I pick up when I speak to people now about plant care. (The same lack of confidence that I now champion perspective new houseplant owners through daily when they come in.)
I relented, knowing it would be the start of the plant care learning curve that I’d be facing soon enough. Luckily she chose a grafted cacti- something that could survive on sunlight and only an occasional watering.
I learned quickly in the months after opening the shop and my confidence in caring for houseplants shifted from reluctant to empowered. Slowly over the last year our home collection has grown and it’s completely transformed our environment for the best. The benefits they’ve brought both physically in filtering pollutants, and spiritually in the daily practice of care and attention have meant a lot to me. There is a boost of life and energy that’s tangible.  I jump at the chance to evangelize the power of houseplants now. (Especially when I see someone stuck in the same mentality I had only a year ago.)

Shylah in her space

Ponytail palm by the windowThere are a couple in my collection that I am particularly fond of. My White Bird of Paradise are two that are thrilling and so gratifying to witness new growth uncurl and open. The shape of the deep green leaves is also just so tropical I find myself staring into this corner of my home frequently. My Ponytail Palm is also one I’m attached to. It’s so bouncy and touchable.

I have a habit of rearranging my space and plants constantly. I bring home one plant and suddenly the whole corner of the loft is restyled. Thankfully my home is basically just one giant room with huge west facing windows- so most of my plants can thrive anywhere throughout the different areas of my home. I can’t imagine my space without plants now and I have no idea what I was thinking by trying to decorate without them before.



Large studio space

Sunlight pouring in through window of apartmentI daydream of this space having trailing pothos hanging down the walls and from the ceiling- until I figure out how to install something in my 20 foot ceilings though-  a couple hanging shelves are working for me. It’s fun to feel surrounded by plants and take the Urban Jungle to level 10.

Mylah planted some Morning Glory seeds this spring and it’s now this cute twisty climbing plant that I never expected. They grew SO fast and I regularly have to redirect one of the vines to keep it from tangling itself with the pothos above it.





Shylah shows some additional corners of the apartment


This Dragon Tree is by far my most peculiar plant. It’d been living in the display window at the Salvation Army on East Locust for decades. During a remodel it had been moved to the back of the store and was looking absolutely droopy and dismal. After a much needed (and very awkward) repotting session and several months of extra careful care- I’ve seen a complete turn around in condition and that feels SO rewarding. Plants are incredibly determined, it seems. Today it’s a constant reminder to me of the lessons plant teach us in patience, care, and the will to survive. (Recently I was told this Dragon Tree is easily 50 years old. Which I think this is very cool.)


Peculiar dragon tree that is easily over 50 years old.

Okay! That wraps it up! It’s been a great experience learning alongside our customers. The unexpected community of plant people I’ve encountered has been a treat to become part of and grow with. See you soon! 

Shylah (+ Mylah)

Shylah and Mylah in their apartment