Social distancing coinciding with spring has unleashed a curious phenomenon. Plant Dads! It seems that self-isolation and bars being closed are resulting in men not just growing their beards but growing plants, too. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown have unleashed many activities people had thought they left in the last century from baking bread to sewing to yes growing more plants.

According to Reuters, as the virus spread in March, seed company W. Atlee Burpee & Co sold more seed than any time in its 144-year history. In my own purely unscientific study, I’m noticing lots of plant dads in my circle and on my social media. A few aren’t merely content with the simple house plant, no I’m seeing and hearing about men planting full-on living room gardens.

One friend has turned his corner two-bedroom condo on the 15th floor into a greenhouse. For the record, he gets great afternoon sun and has plenty of windows to grow his herbs, lettuce, and tomatoes. Others, if they have space, might take their garden outside. One close friend, reported that her husband spends his afternoons-off listening to music and weeding in their backyard.

From Boys with plants, Boy: @theplantsapiens

While it may seem like a hot new trend, this isn’t a completely new trend spurred on by COVID-19. The Instagram account Boys with Plants has long been a shining example of men’s love for their plants. Started by Scott Cain in 2016, the account features men and their plants or men caught in the wild with plants. While curated for attractiveness in both men and plants, the account is filled with everyday hot guys who happen to have lots of plants. There is even a coffee table book for the true aficionado.

Being a plant dad isn’t just about being sexy. Men are tapping into their nurturing side. Which ok let’s admit it, is sexy. But really it’s not just about sex appeal on social media. When you remove all the distractions that come with robust social and work lives, many people simply want to take care of something. Men are no exception. Plant dads aren’t doing it for the social media clout, they are tapping into a universal human desire to care take.

Growing up my dad was the one cutting the grass and trimming hedges. I’ve long seen friends’ fathers gardening or working in the yard on weekends. Many men have always been into gardens, lawns, and yards. But right now feels a bit different. My dad might have liked a nice yard and his hedges and trees trimmed but he didn’t pay much attention to the houseplants. This isn’t to say other men weren’t caring for houseplants or large gardens. It’s to say in my limited circle it certainly didn’t appear as common as it is now.

The recent prevalence of men in my social circle with houseplants and bragging about their plant babies on social media does make one wonder if this will last past the lockdown. That once the bars and restaurants open back up, will the vibrant gardens and plant babies be left behind?

There has been a lot of talk about the lifestyle changes people have made during the pandemic. It’s yet to be determined which of those changes people will keep. These days, people are re-evaluating their relationship with nature in all sorts of ways. It has been a time of reflection for many. They are realizing having plants indoors or outdoors is a wonderful thing. By bringing nature back into their homes, plant dads are experiencing the joy that comes from seeing a seedling sprout or a flower bloom. Turns out staying home all the time gives you a lot of time to reflect and grow a few plants.