Since the beginning of lockdown, my Instagram feed has been inundated with Plant Daddies — the kind of guys who name their plants and sing to them on Instagram Live.
I’m not just seeing things either. As Scott Cain, the founder of the Boys With Plants Instagram account tells me, since quarantine started, he’s received dozens of inquiries a day from guys looking to get into plants, as well as more muscled and toned guys posing with their greenery. “I’ve gone from two to three entries a day to six or seven,” he says. “The guys take a lot of time and care into looking after their plants, and also the pictures they send to me!”
Cain, whose account has more than 180,000 followers, adds that there’s also been a surge in the number of men engaging with his page. For some, he says, it’s about finding ideas and inspiration for post-shelter-in-place decor, but for others, “it’s about mental health. Plants are less of a commitment than a puppy and make it a necessity to open the curtains of your apartment.” Not to mention, he adds, “Taking pictures with a plant is a good way to pass the time. It can take a whole day to get the right shot, with the right kind of [natural lighting].”
Another plant guy, Julian Donofrio (aka Sprout_Daddy), agrees. Though he’s unsure if plants are being seen as props to add clout during Zoom calls, Donofrio says that being stuck at home for long periods of time can make people more aware of their interior surroundings. “A lot of people are becoming more mindful of having life [i.e., plants] mixed in with their decor,” he says. He also concedes that the inability to travel — particularly outside of cities — probably has something to do with it, too. “It’s certainly possible that the pandemic has forced people to seek a green fix elsewhere, and therefore, they find it on Instagram.”
What, though, would someone like myself — a man with absolutely no green thumb and a habit of forgetting to water even the plant life that resides directly under my nose (I once killed a succulent in less than a month) — get to brighten up both their spartan bachelor pad and Instagram feed?
If the goal is to fill all that empty space, Cain recommends a large sansevieria (or snake plant), especially the ones with yellow on the edge, or hard-to-kill plants such as the ficus elastica (rubber tree) or ficus longifolia. Meanwhile, for those who don’t get a lot of natural light in their place or struggle for space, he suggests Peperomia and hoya plants that can fit into small pots. For his part, Donofrio mentions the ZZ plant, which he describes as “hard-to-kill but still provides a pop of green to the space.”
And while tight abs and meaty man thighs don’t hurt when added to all this foliage (at least in the realm of likes), Cain is also sure to remind me that there’s something much deeper at play here as well — especially given our current dark timeline. “A plant,” he says, “represents optimism and hope for the future.”