Green Scene

These boys believe potted plants make a house a home.

Amanda Keenan
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.”