A leaf of faith: We Bite’s pop-ups brings rare, unusual plants to New Orleans

Carlos Detres is a planner, so it’s still a bit of a surprise to him that, a year ago, he accidentally started a plant nursery in the front room of his home.

by Chelsea Brasted
June 17, 2019

Carlos Detres is a planner, so it’s still a bit of a surprise to him that, a year ago, he accidentally started a plant nursery in the front room of his home.

“I just wanted to sell off some plants,” he said.

Photo Courtesy: Carlos Detres

After Detres began collecting interesting and carnivorous plants, he quickly figured out that the lessons his grandmother taught him about caring for them while growing up in Florida translated quickly to more plants.

“I just started… doing pop-ups, just selling whatever we had and started seeing the money come in,” Detres said.

A photographer by trade, Detres operates We Bite Plant Parlor and Nursery as a labor of love — and plant obsession — with his wife, Aryn. The pair have no traditional brick-and-mortar location; instead, they run the business through pop-ups around New Orleans and appointments and events in their half of a shotgun double.

Sitting in the airy space filled with lush greens and brightened by lights trained directly on the carnivorous plants from which We Bite gets its name, Carlos Detres explains his fascination with the little monsters began about two or three years ago.

“I was going out less and less, spending less money on booze and more money on plants,” he said. “I was doing nighttime gardening and checking on plants with a flashlight. I just couldn’t stop doing it.”

Photo Courtesy: Carlos Detres

Soon, he realized he’d have to let his hobby pay for itself. As he saw the pop-ups become successful, he started an Instagram account to chronicle the goings-on in his tiny nursery. Now, @webitenola is a page filled with greenery and plant care suggestions.

“When you’re selling plants at a local nursery here, to know what every single plant does is hard, so you end up selling off a lot of carnivorous plants to people for what will eventually be a dead plant because there’s no care sheet,” he said. “There’s not a lot of advice. … I thought, there’s a lot of dead plants going home.”

Carlos truly cares about his plants — he feels like they’re a distinct window into our ecosystem — so care-taking is an important part of his process.

“Carnivorous plants are really, for me, the introduction to how plants function in nature,” he said. “You can actually see a plant move. … Once you see that, you start to understand these plants really need a lot of the same things we do. They’re also just really, really strange.”

That outlook, he said, feels a lot like the ones he sees his customers experience.

Photo Courtesy: Carlos Detres

“People who are into plants are also getting more into their connection to nature, and they want a piece of that in their home,” he said. “Their awareness of that is getting them more active into where their plant came from. There’s a little bit of activism here, and we can do that because we have no overhead.”

The unique approach to We Bite means Carlos and his wife get to really enjoy their pop-ups, which typically happen twice a month. This summer, they hope to pair their plant sales with a visit from a tarot card reader, a macrame maker and terrariums.

Carlos Detres
Carlos Detres (Courtesy: Carlos Detres)

“People want the more unusual, hard-to-find stuff,” he said. “The way I relate to that is, there are different kinds of things people collect: baseball cards, weird, hard to find stuff, but then to also have a chance to care for it? Everyone wants something to care for.”

You can follow We Bite Plant Parlor to find out information on their next pop-up on Instagram and Facebook.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BijtZT0HimP/

Chelsea Brasted is a New Orleans-born journalist and a West Banker by choice. She most recently served as The Times-Picayune's city columnist. You can follow Chelsea's work on Twitter and Facebook, and you can contact her through her website, ChelseaBrasted.com.

More Local Stories

Fit and Fab: Free summer workouts in Boston

Cover photo courtesy Getty Images Looking to get fit for the summer? Still wary of COVID-19 or just looking for some sunshine while you sweat? Here are some Boston free summer workouts across the city so you can keep moving all season long! Seaport Sweat May 2 to Sept. 29 Boston’s biggest free workout series…

What’s On the Menu?: Farm-to-table

The farm-to-table movement brings locally grown foods to your plate. Not only will enjoying farm-to-table meals allow you to indulge in fresh, nutritional, seasonal dishes, but farm-to-table dining helps the environment and supports the local economy.  Check out these delicious farm-to-table restaurants in Greenville, South Carolina on the latest episode of What’s On the Menu?. …

A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA

Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 

A guide to Pittsburgh’s summer events must-do list

Check out our roundup below for the can’t-miss events happening in the city over the next few months.

Eat Play Stay Orlando: Tarpon Springs

In historic Ybor City, different cultures bring out the best in one another. Enjoy an authentic Cuban sandwich or dine at a restaurant now on its fifth generation of ownership. After chicken yoga (yes, that’s a thing!), treat yourself to a hand-rolled cigar.

Dorchester doughnuts that pack a paczki

These traditional Polish pastries are the real deal.

Cheap Date Orlando: Unicorns Dragons & Desserts

Two Orlando couples shop vintage, search for the perfect slice, visit a post-apocalyptic saloon, and take the stage on blind dates in Orlando.

What’s on the Menu: Global Flavors in Greenville

Farm to table is easy when you own the farm! Sun Belly Cafe, Oak Hill Farm & Cafe, Farm Fresh Fast, and The Anchorage Restaurant invite us into their kitchens and show us how farming and sustainability influence their menus.

Hometown Tragedy: Missing in Milwaukee

On this episode of Hometown Tragedy: Missing in Milwaukee, we’ll explore what happened to Jerica Banks, her children, and how it impacted their community.

Exploring the history of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown

At one time, there was even an informal Chinatown mayor to act as a community liaison.

black owned brunch spots new orleans 14 parishes

A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA

Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 

Queen Trini Lisa’s Ascension to New Orleans’ Caribbean Soul Food Throne

Lisa Nelson didn’t plan on being a chef. She didn’t anticipate becoming a queen either, but true to the most beloved of royalty, the people made her one.

Chef Dee Lavigne expands the only Black-owned cooking school in New Orleans

Deelightful Roux School of Cooking is the only African American-owned cooking school taught by a New Orleans native, and her class is a guide to New Orleans’ food culture.

Top 5-04: Where to get tacos in New Orleans

Here are a few of the many awesome taco spots we have in New Orleans.