ABOUT THE NURSERY
Redleaf Exotics Nepenthes Nursery is located in Morrison, TN. We specialize in growing tropical pitcher plants called Nepenthes. Our stock consists of 20 plus years of collecting select species and hybrid cultivars. We use both highland and lowland greenhouses to maximize the range of plants we can provide. We love our plants and want to share that passion with others!
How It All Began
Since the age of 13, Domonick Gravine has had a deep devotion to nature, especially plants. He grew up in Pennsylvania, and this is where he started growing his first carnivorous plants. While shopping at Home Depot with his mother, they came across some venus flytraps. He couldn’t believe some plants could eat bugs! While sorting through them, he came across a tropical pitcher plant called Nepenthes! It piqued his curiosity, so he bought it. When he got home, he web-searched the name on the pot, Nepenthes ventricosa. That google search changed his life!
Exotica Plants: The relationship that changed his life
After only a year of collecting, Dom stumbled upon an Australian based Nepenthes Nursery, Exotica Plants. He immediately took an interest in their plants and would check their website daily to see if they posted any new plants. The size of their pitchers and the different types of hybrids they created were awe-inspiring! He had never seen anything so beautiful and exciting! Dom reached out to the owners, Geoff and Andrea Mandell and found they exported to the USA! He ordered some of his first plants through a group order held on an online carnivorous plant forum. When the import came in, the size and quality of the plants were unbelievable!
Over the years, Dom formed an online relationship with Geoff and Andrea and paid close attention to their stock and breeding program. Nothing fueled his passion more than Exotica Plant’s creations!
Fifteen years later, Domonick planned a trip to Exotica Plants. He worked as a fashion photographer for 12 years at this point, but always had Nepenthes by his side. It was his number 1 to do on the bucket list! During his visit, he fell in love with Geoff and Andrea’s greenhouses and life. Their benches have mounds of sphagnum growing on them, with giant Nepenthes pitchers popping up everywhere. Some of the pitchers could fit an arm inside of them! He clearly remembers leaning back on the bench staring at their gargantuan ( lowii x truncata)- giant and thinking, “Wow. I want my life to be just like this!”
“Inspiration is the fuel to our greatest achievements”
Dom returned to NYC with filled with inspiration! He immediately started looking for apartments outside of the city. It was the only hope of finding a place with any backyard. He searched Craiglist every day and finally found something that looked promising. It was thirty minutes outside of the city, but that wasn’t stopping him. The room was a tiny sun porch off the back of a house, with a door that led to a private backyard. The pics looked a little creepy, but he saw potential! He scheduled a walk through with an agent and went straight to the yard. It was an 18 x 50ft lot covered in garbage and overgrowth. It backed up against a cemetery wall, so it was peaceful, and there weren’t any buildings blocking the light. He told the agent he would take it if the landlord agreed to let him build a greenhouse. He would also create a garden for the other roommates to enjoy. The landlord agreed.
It was only two months after Dom’s trip to Ep and already moved out of Manhattan to begin constructing a 14 x 24ft polytunnel. He finished by spring and started adding plants. Everything flourished!
Redleaf Exotics was born
By spring 2016, Dom came up with the name Redleaf Exotics, as red is his favorite color. He had a website created, and he hosted his first commercial import with Exotica plants. It was very successful, and the Nursery went into full swing. Since opening, he has had a few dozen interviews with notable blogs and podcasts. Redleaf Exotics Nepenthes nursery is now the exclusive distributor for Exotica and one of the top Nepenthes vendors in the country.
After only 2 years in Brooklyn, the nursery needed to expand. Dom joined forces with his best friend and lowland grower, Jerry Brady. They relocated to Morrsion, Tennessee and currently run the operation together.
It’s truly an inspiring story, and Dom says, “Always follow your dreams and never give up! Anything is possible!”