Interview with Redleaf Exotics
Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Domonick Gravine, and I am the owner of Redleaf Exotics, one of USA’s leading carnivorous plant nurseries specializing in Nepenthes. I’ve been growing plants my entire life, and everything I do revolves around plants!
What’s your favorite plant and why?
NEPENTHES, but more specifically, Nepenthes veitchii! There’s just nothing like tropical pitcher plants. The colors! The shapes! The size some of them can obtain! A greenhouse full of Neps is like living in a rainbow! Unlike flowers, happy Nepenthes always have pitchers. The fact that they eat living creatures blows my mind, but it’s even better when they capture mice in the greenhouse. To me, nothing compares to the complex design and beauty of this genus! I also love how challenging some of them can be.
What first sparked your interest for carnivores?
I was shopping with my Mom at a garden center and ran into some Venus flytraps, but It was the single Nepenthes sitting beside them that really caught my attention. I went home and looked up Nepenthes online, and the first thing that popped up was an image of N. lowii. The rest was history!
What’s your best tip for growing carnivores?
Don’t overthink it and be sure to educate yourself on the conditions the plants like before diving in. Most carnivores are super easy! Good Light will take you far.
What if you don’t have a green thumb? What’s the hardest carnivorous plant to kill?
It depends on your setup, but almost everyone can grow Nepenthes with a little attention. They’re way more resilient than most think.
What has been your biggest failure/learning experience in your garden/greenhouse?
Hmmm I’d say growing a Wide variety of tropicals with the Nepenthes. Every genus needs something a little different, and making sure they are all happy together requires a lot of time and attention. It can be very easy for one plant to get overwatered or under if it’s not in the right spot in the greenhouse.
What challenges do you face in your specific area/country/climate? And have you found a “solution” or a way to work around or with those challenges?
The changing of seasons has been the most challenging, and learning how to operate the greenhouses through the changes, so the plants don’t get upset. Every year, I’ve learned something new to minimize the affects on the plants. During summer the greenhouse is more open and warm, in the winter cold and a lot of dry heat. Adjusting the greenhouse from one season to the next has become effortless now, and the plants don’t show any signs of pitcher loss.
What is your favourite task in the garden/greenhouse?
I have a lot of favorite things to do in the greenhouse and garden, but arranging the plants so they complement one another and breeding new crosses is at the top!
What is your least favourite task in the garden/greenhouse?
Repotting. I know! Most love it, but when you’re handling thousands of plants (mostly alone) the behind gets sore and I get antsy! Lol
Who or what inspires you?
Geoff and Andrea Mansell at Exotica Plants have always been a huge inspiration as far as Nepenthes go. Their legacy of breeding and tons of unimaginable size pitchers have always inspired me to do some of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life! They were the true inspiration behind starting Redleaf Exotics and the journey from that inspiration has been life changing! I can go on and on! Aside from this, I am a crazy outdoor gardener and I just love good garden design.
How many plants do you have approximately?
Oh gawd… I’ll just leave it at thousands!
Thanks for the interview Domonick!
Check out his Instagram page.