Today we’d like to introduce you to Dylan Sheng.
Dylan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve had a fascination with nature. I’d love going hiking, watching David Attenborough’s documentaries, and reading books. One day, my mom got me a flytrap from a local grocery store and I was introduced to a new world. A plant, that turned the tables on animals and ate them instead? My second-grade self was captivated. I promptly killed the poor plant within a couple of weeks, not knowing how to care for it. Because I showed that much interest in it, my parents got me a book just about carnivorous plants in hopes of keeping it alive. I studied its care requirements and successfully kept it alive for several months.
A search for more information and plants led me online, where I found forums dedicated to the cultivation of these plants. There I met like-minded individuals that ranged from beginners like me to experts who had massive collections. On these forums is where I first started selling. Seeds or little divisions of my plants provided enough money to get another plant. Fast forward a couple of years, and I’d become the owner of a small, hobbyist based business. I helped start the Texas Carnivorous Plant group (which just had its second meeting in Houston) and became a member of the ICPS (International Carnivorous Plant Society). As of today, I have over 200 different species and hybrids native to every corner of the Earth, and hundreds of individual plants.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For the most part, it’s been a pretty smooth road. But plants are plants. They’ll die on you for no reason sometimes, or be extremely picky about everything. Growing and selling also sometimes was pushed aside for things like school, which became more and more demanding. I had to choose which one I saw as more important, you know?
The plant market is also extremely selective. People don’t want certain types, but the demand for others is so high the prices can go crazy. Living in Texas weather also put me at a disadvantage as compared to some of my fellow growers and competitors as this part of the country is not friendly to most of the species I grow. There are those lucky people with mild temps all year in California and Oregon and I’m here with 100+ degrees every summer.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Plano Carnivorous Plants – what should we know?
I run and manage Plano Carnivorous Plants, which is dedicated to providing healthy, quality plants affordably, as well as spreading knowledge about these plants and the natural world. I grow almost exclusively carnivorous plants and am one of the few hobbyists in the North Texas area to do so. However, the large majority of orders are from online, and I ship these plants all across the country. Where else are you going to find exotic carnivorous plants in Plano?
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’m going to point a huge thank you to my parents. They were the ones who got me into the hobby in the first place, and they’ve been more than supportive of it. I definitely would not be anywhere as close as I am today without their help.
I’d also like to give thanks to some other growers, Peter D Amato, the author of the Savage Garden book that helped me through the first few rough years. Jeremiah Harris and Drew Martinez have been inspirational with their huge, amazing greenhouses, and hosting the 2018 Texas Carnivorous Plant Society Meeting. And last but not least, Paul Riddell of the local Texas Triffid Ranch, Dallas’s only carnivorous plant gallery. It’s nice connecting with others of this hobby, especially somewhere like DFW where there aren’t many of us.
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