NEW ORLEANS— There are a lot of charming businesses in the city of New Orleans. Since 2017, Carlos Detres has sold unique plants to plant enthusiasts. His soul is a creative one and it shows in his cultivation and his art.
“My background is in commercial photography and fine art. Before the pandemic, that was what I mostly did and selling plants was sort of the side hustle. Now I do this full time,” says Carlos Detres.
We Bite Rare & Unusual Plants is hidden in a neighborhood off of Mandeville street. It’s a hipster’s jungle with groovy grow lights, high humidity and more character than in most carnivorous plant musicals. The name “We Bite” is quite appropriate, because Carlos specializes in carnivorous plants.
“All plants move if you pay attention long enough. These plants are special; they move a lot more quickly than other plants do. Venus fly traps have an instantaneous reaction. Sundews wrap their tentacles around insects in about an half hour. You are getting some pretty dramatic reactions from these plants. My wife doesn’t want a dog in the house and this was as close as I could get.”
Carnivorous plants are unique and quite intriguing for those without an exoskeleton. In 2017, Carlos opened his speakeasy-type shop out of his house, where he would throw monthly pop up plant sales. With his success, his life was changing and soon he would have his first child. As with any plant, his passion was growing but he needed more space for his family. He made the decision to move his shop into it’s own building.
He credits his grandmother for his love of all things green, saying, “the one that really got my attention was a prayer plant at my grandmother’s house. She explained to me how the leaves would follow the sun as it travels across the sky. We would visit her on Saturdays and she would show me how plants developed these abilities to move. That experience left me with a question of how much are plants like us?”
Scientists are finding new discoveries every day and carnivorous plants are more widespread than once thought. Tomato plants, exhibit carnivorous traits in the plant world. The tiny hairs along their stems trap insects, which then fall off and then eventually nourish the soil.
Beyond the peculiar, houseplants have always been trendy and in recent years, they have gained popularity with millennials. Instagram shows plants in a favorable light, Jazmine Sullivan’s music videos are even more soulful with philodendrons in the background and YouTube plant enthusiasts are plentiful. In 2019, the National Gardening Survey showed that a quarter of garden spending was attributed to people the ages between 18 and 34.
Houseplants are not just “cool,” they are healthy and they make us healthy. NASA studies have shown house plants help to freshen and detoxify the air we breathe and they increase productivity. Like many, Carlos treated his pandemic anxiety with gardening.
“I think everyone has an innate nurturing side to them that they want to explore. Growing and caring for my plants has made me a calmer person overall,” says Carlos Detres.