What’s the point of Boys with Plants? Who cares?
March 28, 2019
If ever there were proof of the wondrous pointlessness of Instagram, Scott Cain is it. His feed, Boys with Plants, is a thing of rare and wonderful pointlessness: it is photographs of men and plants. It’s very silly and oddly sweet, with a hefty dose of homoeroticism.
Cain started by posting pictures of the plants on his balcony at home in Australia. He appears to be fond of large Swiss cheese plants, ferns and cacti. He discovered a whole community of online plant lovers keen to discuss the optimal soil, light and pot conditions for each plant. From there, he had the revelation that the one thing better than photos of plants on their own would be plants with their owners, many of whom are buff and scantily clad. Thus Boys with Plants came into being, an Instagram feed that has 120,000 followers and which has, inevitably, spawned a book: Boys with Plants: 50 Boys and the Plants They Love.
“I should have known that an account about boys and plants would find an audience,” Cain writes in his introduction. The book opens with Aaron, a 28-year-old investment banker from Philadelphia. Aaron is young, good-looking and naked. “To Aaron,” the text reads, “size does count — he thinks the bigger the plant, the better.” Aaron protects his modesty with an artfully placed fur throw and a baseball cap, and expresses a preference for big, leafy plants such as Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant) and fiddle-leaf figs.
We learn that Jan, 30, from Slovenia, hopes one day to have a big house with big windows that he can fill with plants. Mauricio, from Sao Paolo, advises talking to plants. “It will do them and you well,” he says, adding: “If you are the sort of person who forgets their obligations, choose plants that require little water.” Wise words.
Trevor in San Francisco does yoga surrounded by his menagerie of plants from the Tillandsia genus. These, we are informed, have no roots and therefore require particular attention, so presumably they are best avoided by those who forget their obligations.
The book has advice on “choosing the right plant for you”. There’s a chapter on keeping your plant alive and, should you find this challenging, a helpful list of the top ten plants that are difficult to kill. These include Sansevieria and Monstera deliciosa, which may or may not be the reason why Aaron in Philadelphia chose the latter. Finally, there’s a helpful alphabetical list of the boys and their Instagram handles. It’s kind of like Grindr, but with plants. They could call it Gardnr.
Boys with Plants by Scott Cain (Modern, £9.99) @Boyswithplants
December 1, 2018
Fifty Boys And The Plants They Love is a cute idea and a great Xmas stocking stuffer! What started as an Instagram account for Perth boy, Scott Cain is now a charming little book for flipping through and finding how green hot guys can be.
Von Pflanzenjungs und Naturburschen
Das World Wide Web blüht. Genauso wie die Wohnzimmer zahlreicher Kerle. Männer, die sich gern um Pflanzen kümmern und mit ihnen die eigenen vier Wände verschönern, gelten nicht länger als sensible Weicheier. Nein, sie sind die Social-Media-Stars der Stunde.
“Ein neuer Hype ist generiert
Die Liebe zu Ficus und Co. keimt bei den meisten schwulen Männern aber lange nicht mehr nur im heimischen Umfeld. Auch in den sozialen Netzwerken hat sie Wurzeln geschlagen. Wundert euch also nicht, wenn euer Feed mal wieder einem Dschungel gleicht. Denn nach der Aufregung um Männer, die sich mit Büchern an allen denkbaren Orten haben ablichten lassen, sind es jetzt eben Boys with plants, die bei vielen von uns für Entzückung sorgen. Der Gründer des gleichnamigen Instagram-Accounts, Scott, erklärt: «Ich denke, der Kontrast von männlicher Stärke in jedweder Form – nicht nur auf Muskeln begrenzt – und der Zerbrechlichkeit von Pflanzen ist anziehend. Ausserdem unterstreicht das die fürsorgliche Seite an uns Kerlen. Mir ist es wichtig, Typen aus allen Ecken dieses Planeten vorzustellen. Alt und jung, gross und klein.» Genau das tut Scott auch und ist mitverantwortlich für den globalen Hype, den das Thema Männer und Pflanzen ausgelöst hat. «Natürlich habe ich, bevor ich den Account gestartet habe, nicht im Leben daran gedacht, irgendwann eine Website zu betreiben, Shirts und Sticker drucken zu lassen oder ein Buch zu veröffentlichen. Mich überrascht noch immer, wie sich das alles entwickelt hat.»”
q feature: BOYS WITH PLANTS
Plant-Based Power: An Interview with Scott Cain, the creator of Instagram’s Boys with Plants
November 4, 2018
Scott Cain is the creator of the wildly popular Instagram account Boys with Plants now topping over 90k followers. The success of his page has led to the publication of the ‘Boys With Plants’ book. Scott is a freelance graphic designer who is based in Perth. Working from home Scott enjoys being surrounded by the plants his home is filled with.
Where did you get the idea for BWP?
In 2016 I started a plants-themed account, TropicaLoco, where I met some great people, who I chat with regularly. I used to swap pictures with Jamesipy of boys with plants and realised it would make a really good page so I created Boys with Plants in October 2016.
By April 2017 the page had around 30k followers but it really took off in mid-2017 when Boys with Plants was mentioned in the Washington Post and got noticed in other publications like Cleo Magazine and Metro UK. It was around this time that I was approached by Modern Books about doing a book.
Today you have 90k+ followers and a book that has just been released. Many people only dream of such success with their Instagram account. It almost seems like an overnight success. How did you do it?
It definitely was not an overnight success! I put a lot of work into it. I curate carefully, stick to the theme and I post three times a day: morning, noon and before I got to bed. Occasionally I might allow myself to post twice a day.
I believe the reason why Boys with Plants is successful is because I acknowledge the boys that are posted. I make it clear that I repost their image and the guys like how many new followers they get once they are featured. Which plants photograph best with boys? The first thing I look for are the plants. My personal preference is big, bold foliage tropical houseplants like monstera, allocatia, ferns, cacti and anthuriums. It’s about the plants first. The second thing I look at is the boy. If the image is not plant-focused I don’t post it. I’m trying to educate my audience on what I look for. (Scroll through boyswithplants.com/tips for tips on how to get featured).
If it’s a great picture I will post it and if a boy gets posted multiple times then it’s because what he submitted is more than a pretty picture. Now, once a week, I feature a ‘Boy of the Week’. These are often the guys I would like to put in the book but either I was not able to feature then or they came along after the book was finalised for publication.
What the most negative thing you experienced during your time working on Boys with Plants?
People are usually pretty good. However some guys get featured then feel they are getting too much attention on their own Instagram page. They get sent messages from strangers and then ask to have the photo to be taken off Boys with Plants. So they get 300 to 400 new followers because they got featured and then want their photo removed.
Recently I posted an image of guy surrounded by plants. In the image he was being playful with a cactus. Not more than 20 minutes after the photo was posted, I received negative comments, and so I removed the image. I told the boy about it and he was a good sport; he laughed it off. Things like that don’t happen often though.
How do the images resonate with your followers? Were there any controversies?
I lot a lot of people unfollowed me after I posted an image of a hunky man covering his private parts with a leaf, despite over 9500 likes.
View this post on Instagram
It’s a nice image but there are a million pages out there about muscular naked boys. I have a built an audience who are looking with boys with plants and that’s what they expect to see.
View this post on Instagram
This photo was successful because his pose is cool; the plant is interesting with all the aerial roots showing. In this case he’s a mature, masculine man and it’s not sexual. It’s genuine and that appeals to people. Not everyone appreciates sexual and that’s not the intention of the page either.
Regarding submissions; what irritates you the most and why?
People thinking they are more important than their plants. On my page they’re not, even if they are good looking super-model type of guys.
What is the most positive thing you experienced through your journey with Boys with Plants and why?
Receiving my book in the mail. It felt like the culmination of a lot of work, both on the page as well as the design process.
Who was your favourite boy and why?
One of my favourite boys is Jan K, Home by Fousna – he photographs his plants beautifully. He is genuinely interested in plants, in growing and propagating them. And he is a good reflection of how international the page is: he is Czech and lives in Bogota, Colombia. We’ve built up a friendship.
Who was your least favourite boy and why?
I don’t have a least favourite boy but I do have a least favourite type of boy. It’s somebody who submits a photo thinking it is amazing for the page. Maybe it ticks the boxes but for whatever reason I choose not to post it. Some of the guys follow up and are so pushy that they can become unpleasant.
I also get submissions from mums sending in pictures of their two-year old child with houseplants. While the pictures are fine I would never post images of children with plants when they are surrounded on a feed with half-naked men. It’s weird. Why look at an Instagram account of men and then submit a photo of your kid?
What demographic is your readership?
From the statistics I get, Boys with Plants started out with 25% guys and 75% girls. Now it has moved to 45% guys and 55% girls between the ages of 25 and 35.
Is there anything you would like to change about BWP or the process?
I might have like to call it Men with Plants because it’s a more accurate reflection of who is represented. Initially I started out with Men with Plants and then speaking to some friends about it they recommended that Boys with Plants had a better ring to it. If you look up www.instagram.com/menwithplants you would find a link to Boys with Plants.
With plants being a focus on your Instagram page you’re obviously concerned about the environment. What tips would you give to your followers for them to make even a small impact to protect the environment?
I have recently stared a partnership with a charity called One Tree Planted. For every product that I sell on my page (t-shirts, mugs, stickers) I donate to them and they plant one tree. This idea came about because one of my followers suggested that if each of my followers planted one tree we would have over 90k trees planted.
At times BWP can be fairly racy, what do people closest to you say?
My grandma hasn’t seen it. My mum supports it but has not seen the page. I think it’s a bit too racy for her. But she is busy with her own plant-based Instagram account.
From boys with plants to a boy with plans: what can we expect from you 2019? Maybe ‘Boys With Plants: The Movie’? Or perhaps budgie smugglers?
I have more products coming out in 2019 to go with the t-shirt, mugs and stickers that I already have out. I would like to do a variety of t-shirts. I will have a Boys with Plants tote bag out and things like socks, phone cases and cushions so make sure you visit the page and the site for more information. There might also be a calendar if all goes to plan in 2020.
These boys believe potted plants make a house a home.
October 27-28, 2018
‘I honestly think that if you treat your plants like they are your babies, you will live a happy life,” hirsute Californian Cody insists. “Love them, hug them, kiss them, miss them. Get together for dinner, call them by their names — be the plant dad you were meant to be.”
Los Angeleno Dabito likes to give his plant babies baths, while Mihalis takes his in the shower with him. Investment banker Aaron reckons his green leafy friends make his yoga sessions a magical experience.
Art director Alan just knows his potted housemates love to talk and gossip among each other while he’s out. Bryson and Goof are the horticultural version of animal rescuers, adopting unwanted plants and giving them loving, forever homes.
These are guys with green hearts, blokes who reckon a home that doesn’t accommodate horticultural pursuits is not really a home at all. Chemist Jan, who lives in a decadently verdant space in Slovenia, puts it simply: “An apartment without plants is like a person without a personality.”
Well, that would make graphic designer Scott Cain’s apartment just outside of Perth something of an extrovert. You can tell Scott’s joint from the carpark: it’s the one that with a veranda that looks like a suburban jungle — a wall of green that immediately makes the otherwise nondescript building look alive.
Scott is the guy behind Boys With Plants: a website, Instagram account and now book showcasing all kinds of dudes and their dracaenas or monsteras or ferns (which, apparently, are enjoying a bit of a comeback). He can’t remember a time without plants in the picture.
“I grew up in the 70s so we always had plants around, a patio full of plants,” he recalls. “We had misters and Mum used to put them on the ferns and I remember going out in the sun and walking through the misters and all the ferns. And we had a huge hare-foot fern overtaking the big wooden TV.”
His adult obsession with plants has forged a beautiful bond between Scott and his mum Carol.
“It’s definitely something that I connect with my mum about; we share cuttings, she still has heaps of plants and we’ll go to plant shops together.”
While Scott has a few gorgeous plants inside under a lamp, his sunny veranda is where the action is. “This big monstera here was an early one and that was one that I probably got even before I moved here,” he says, showing off the lovely specimen. “I’ve got another really early one from my mum. This one is a peperomia, and this one we always had when I was growing up.”
Like the guys in his book, which is a collection of shots from his Instagram page with little anecdotes and plant tips, Scott’s idea of bliss is being among his leafy coterie. “Something I find so peaceful is to come out here at 11 o’clock at night, water all my plants … on a hot summer’s night, it’s the best.”
But unlike many of the Boys With Plants, Scott doesn’t serenade his charges or chat to them. “I’m not really one of those people. I don’t talk to them and I don’t name them.” His plants just have to listen to whatever music he likes. “They’re responding so they must like it.”
Scott started the site as TropicaLoco, an Instagram account where he shared shots of his plants. “Through that I met lots of other people who were interested in plants. I flew to Singapore to catch up with some of them and we used to chat all the time and share pictures of plants and also guys with plants and then at one point I said ‘I’m going to make this into an account’.”
“I’m just a guy who likes plants.”
Scott took a leaf out of the book of accounts such as Hot Dudes Reading and Hot Dudes With Kittens (these days there are all kinds of variations, including Hot Dudes and Hummus). “There were ‘guys with’ accounts but the plant thing hadn’t quite taken off. This was October, 2016.”
Boys With Plants now has 93,500-odd followers and gets more submissions than Scott can handle (including the odd not-safefor- Instagram nude and plenty that don’t have the appropriate plant focus).
“I’ve got a whole thing on my website about what I look for and I message back to them: ‘Thanks, great picture but looking for a stronger plants focus.’ I want to keep it really plant focused.”
The account has helped Scott link up with like-minded plant people all around the world.
“There’s a guy in Bogota in Colombia that I chat to all the time. He’s got beautiful plants and is just an interesting person,” he says. “We have a common interest in plants but then as soon as you start talking about other things you realise ‘Oh, we have a lot more in common outside of plants’. Same with my friend James in Singapore. When I was over there I caught up with another guy there that I had chatted to and they showed me the botanical gardens and their knowledge of tropical plants was amazing.”
Boys With Plants has made Scott friends locally, too. They share plants, cuttings and tips at events. He’s pretty well known in the burgeoning plant community, a very “niche celebrity”, he jokes.
Scott loves fancy plants but certainly isn’t averse to shopping at Bunnings or Big W either. He likes Gumtree for retro pots and eBay comes in handy for rarities. “The variegated monstera — I got that from eBay. That was really expensive because it’s really in demand at the moment — a bit fashionable. I blame Instagram for that!”
Scott bristles at the suggestion a love of plants says anything in particular about a guy. “A lot of people ask about what it means about masculinity. That seems to be a common question. I don’t know, I’m just a guy who likes plants.”