14 Plants for Manly Men

Looking for plants that go with grilling, suds and Nascar? Give your garden a blast of testosterone with plants just right for Father's Day giving.

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Horse Crippler Cactus

A man who grows the horse crippler eats danger for breakfast after a morning run with scissors. In the wild, this cactus deflates during drought, making spines stand straight up, easily crippling unsuspecting horses. Sharp spines slip through an army boot like a hot knife through butter. Also known as devil’s claw, devil’s footstool and devil’s head, this rugged plant grows in conditions as hot as Hades, withstanding soil temps in excess of 160°F. It adapts well to life in a pot, just keep leather gloves at the ready.

‘King Cobra’ Mangave

This plant is so manly it has man in the name! With snakey coloration and spiney leaves, this plant delivers the adventure men crave. It has the potential to draw blood or poke your eye out, but if you handle it right, it may not. What man can resist that siren call of danger? Mangave (pronounced man-GAH-vay—even the name has a macho ring) is a cross between manfreda and agave. Agave lends the spines; manfreda brings the color. This butch beauty doesn’t need pampering to look its best. Just give it a little water and a lot of sun.

ZZ Plant

Move aside 007, Double Z has arrived! This docile-looking houseplant is a superhero in disguise, complete with bulletproof personality. It oozes manliness with its maintenance-free demeanor. Those shiny leaves aren’t waxed and buffed—that’s just how they grow. Give this plant low light, warm air and precious little water (we’re talking water maybe 6 times in 15 months). That’s all it takes. Double Z stands for Zamioculcas zamiifolia. You can call it zamia for short.

Gunnera

Any plant with a name that sounds like gun earns a spot on the manly plants list. Gunnera, known in garden circles as giant rhubarb, conjures dreams of dinosaurs and journeys to the center of the earth. It’s so testosterone charged it should require a man card to grow it. Stems have thick spines that continue along leaf undersides. Leaves reach up to 6 feet across—easily earning the “bigger is better” award. One tip for success: Constant moisture, boggy soil and light shade are a must.

‘Big Boss Man’ Pepper

The name says it all. This is the pepper for the big guy at your house. Plants produce peppers that measure a whopping 7 inches long by 3 inches wide—definitely more than one bite. It brings about the same heat as a jalapeno, so it’s not a pepper for wimps. ‘Big Boss Man’ is an ancho-poblano type—it’s called ancho when dried, poblano when fresh. Stuff it with cheese, wrap it in bacon and toss it on the grill for a snack no man can resist.

Venus Flytrap

Half pet, half plant—venus flytrap is the perfect fit for a red meat-loving man. Like any real man, this plant needs protein to survive. Its meat-eating appetite craves bugs, specifically flies and ants. But these carnivores have been known to eat caterpillars, grasshoppers, wasps and even small frogs. You might want to keep small pets away from this beast. Insects trip tiny hair triggers on the trap leaves, causing them to snap shut in less than 20 seconds.

Festival Burgundy Cordyline

The name sounds like a party, but this plant has a rugged personality that withstands heat, drought and sizzling summer sun. It has the perfect feel for a man cave patio, coupling color with incredible growing power. You’ll earn compliments for its good looks without really having to do anything—making it the perfect low-maintenance plant! Where it’s not winter hardy, haul it indoors (show off your muscles while doing so) and use it again next year (less plant shopping and money savings). What’s not to love?

Tuff Stuff Mountain Hydrangea

Don’t let the pretty face on this shrub fool you. Tuff Stuff is one hydrangea that takes its licks like a man, withstanding hot summer sun without wilting and subzero temps without damaging flower buds. It’s a reblooming hydrangea, meaning it makes any man look good with its consistently great looks. It’s the perfect addition to a patio garden, where it can bring beauty—and bragging rights—to backyard barbecues.

Boxwood Hedge

Let’s face it, boxwood can be boring. But for a real man, a simple boxwood hedge won’t cut it. He’ll draft blueprints, dig out the tape measure, string line and maybe even a caliper or two, and then tackle creating his hedge clipping Edward Scissorhands masterpiece. If your guy likes gadgets, this is the time to get him a laser level and cordless hedge clippers. Once he’s done, a drone may be next on the gift list—to capture aerial views of his creation and show his buds how it’s done.

‘Cream Spike’ Agave

Small but deadly, this beauty grows a mere 4 inches high by 12 inches wide, creating a definite danger zone packed with prickly potential. Agave spines tend to pierce deeply, drawing blood. Forget safety goggles when growing this one—make sure your tetanus shot is up to date. The weird markings on the leaves are imprints left by the leaf edge spines as leaves unfurl. Agaves don’t need much in the way of care. Full sun, little water and a well-draining soil keeps things copacetic.

‘Purple Robe’ Locust

Here’s a tree that displays a guy’s dudely smarts in choosing plants because it’s a stunner. Purple flowers in spring stop traffic. It also gives him a chance to play with power tools, including chainsaw and chipper-shredder. This tree forms thickets if you don’t keep after it. In wind storms, brittle branches break, providing another chance to break out the chainsaw. For a man who longs to rev up his power tools, this tree has bromance written all over it.

Musclewood

This native tree has a muscle-rippled trunk and tough-as-nails constitution. How tough is it? It’s used in shopping mall island plantings in Atlanta. (Now that’s tough.) It tolerates flooding, drought, light shade, sun—and has great fall color. The dense, hard wood has been used to make tool handles, golf clubs, walking sticks and the weapon that every red-blooded male longs to shoot: the longbow. This tree also goes by a far less glamorous names: American hornbeam and blue beech.

Dwarf Mugo Pine

Give your man a plant that makes his yard the best on the block—with very little effort. Mugo pine grows slowly, rarely needs trimming and looks good year-round. It’s the Swiss army knife of landscape plants, fitting into foundation plantings, driveway edging, shrub borders or rock gardens. It even blends into a vegetable garden with ease. It’s the perfect plant for a busy young dad or a take-it-easy grandfather who wants plenty of free time for his grands.

Home Run Rose

What’s more attractive to a woman than a man with roses? A man with roses he grew himself! With Home Run rose, fresh flowers are always in season—with precious little effort required. This shrub rose’s father is the famous Knock Out, which means Home Run tolerates drought, heat and salt and shrugs off disease like a man shrugs at tofu. In other words, any dude can grow it. Clip the flowers for your girl and let her see your sensitive side. Score!