Meet Mikayla Labonte, the Mad Jungle Lady!
My name is Mikayla Labonte but you can find me on Instagram as the Mad Jungle Lady! I am 26 and have been living in Colorado Springs since the beginning of 2021.
How did you get into plants?
I got introduced to a more variety of plants when my husband was deployed for a year/the pandemic. My husband spent a year away from my daughter and I. And because of the pandemic, he wasn’t allowed to come home at the halfway mark of his deployment. I also have a friend who owns a nursery in Washington State. Because of the pandemic, she had to close her shop for months and didn’t want the plants to die. So I adopted about 7!
A lot can happen in 6 months...
What was your first plant?
My first plant was a small succulent from Lowe’s that I killed almost immediately. Still, to this day, I can’t keep a succulent alive!
What makes plants so special?
What makes a plant special to me is that like people there are so many varieties, sizes, colors, and different ways of taking care of each one. There is something about digging your hands into soil and helping a plant flourish!
How many plants do you have?
I have about 90 houseplants not including the many I am propagating for my friends!
Do you have any wishlist plants?
My biggest wishlist plant is a Pink princess Philodendron.
Which plant in your collection would you save from a fire?
I would 100% save my 4 ft. Monstera from a burning house! I may not make it out because it’s seriously so big and heavy, but I’d try!
On the flip side, do you have a plant that you kind of wish would just die? (Real talk.)
I would not mind if my “Shangri-la” Philodendron died. For whatever reason she partially dies constantly. She gives off this evergreen smell and the stems get mushy. I’ll clean her up, get all the gross stuff off, and then she gets something like 6 new growth points. She’s my most moody plant.
Are there any underrated or overrated plants?
The most underrated would be pothos! They are one of the more “common” plants but they always have new growth quickly and can crawl/grow up to a few feet long from one plant!
The most overrated plant would be all the “string of..” plants. (Variegated string of hearts and string of pearls don’t count. LOL!) But, for example, a string of turtles a few years ago wasn’t $70 (or whatever crazy amount) for a 2" pot, like it is now.
What is your advice for someone starting their plant journey?
The best advice I can give a newbie is drainage! Drainage! Drainage!
What plant tip do you swear by?
My golden advice is banana water as an alternative to fertilizer! Put two to three banana peels in a gallon of water, put it in fridge for a couple days, and then take it out of the fridge so the water can warm to room temperature. Then water your babies! I got two new fiddle leaf fig leaves in one week by doing just this!
Is there a plant myth that drives you nuts?
The plant myth that drives me absolutely insane is plants grow bigger in bigger pots. This applies to some plants but, generally, if you put a plant in a pot that is too big, the roots will “get lost” and you’ll most likely end up with root rot.
Tell us a plant story!
My biggest plant fail was trusting Colorado's weather. It was a nice overcast day with some sunlight so I took a few plants outside for fresh sun. In a matter of 20 minutes the sun made its grand entrance, the temperature shot up to 90 degrees, and all my plants were fried after that.
What plant describes you best?
The plant that best describes me best is the dramatic Fittonia (aka nerve plant.) Leave me alone until I need attention and I’ll make sure you know when I need that attention!