Carlsbad Flower Fields - Carlsbad, California Tour

Carlsbad, Calif.—If the flower fields of Lompoc had enjoyed the amount of traffic that Carlsbad gets with its location near the San Diego I-5 Freeway (over 150,000 visitors per year), the farmers there would have kept the crops as a revenue-generator. The flower fields of Lompoc are not as abundant as they used to be but there's still a commercial place people can go and pay a fee for the privilege of wandering through glorious flowers...thousands upon thousands of them! Each spring in the months of March and April, 50+ acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers are in bloom in the colorful fields of Carlsbad, California, delighting tourists and locals alike.


The Carlsbad Flower Fields located near the Carlsbad shopping outlet and Legoland kids' amusement park is comprised of 50 acres of flowers that grace the hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean each spring.  For a nominal fee visitors can enjoy wandering through the fields and getting a close-up view of the growth.  Included on the premises are a special nursery, garden, and gift shop by Armstrong Garden Centers, and festivals throughout the season.


Among the specialty flower attractions, there are often miniature roses and poinsettias. A 1,500 square foot greenhouse is filled with the world famous Ecke poinsettias. Learn about the Ecke family, the world's largest producer of the country's best selling potted plant - The Poinsettia.


Brilliantly colored flowers are ranunculus' chief attraction, and they are indeed special. They most often come in multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper--thin petals, looking like an origami masterwork. Ranunculus (R. asiaticus) excel in southern and western gardens, and make terrific container plants everywhere. They also make long-lasting cut flowers. Bulbs are widely available this month in retail nurseries and mail-order catalogs.

Ranunculus leaves, grass green and vaguely celery-like, grow in a mound 6 to 12 inches across. Flowers on 12- to 18-inch stems emerge in March from fall-planted bulbs, June and July from spring-planted bulbs; they last up to six weeks. On the most common type, the Tecolote strain, flowers are mostly fully double, 3 to 6 inches wide, and available in bicolored picotee, gold, pastel mix, pink, red, rose, salmon, sunset orange, white, and yellow. The less common Bloomingdale strain is shorter, to 10 inches, with pale orange, pink, red, yellow, and white double flowers.

Ranunculus are cool-season perennials that grow in relatively mild weather with springs that are cool. Ranunculus are most popular in regions of the South and West and grow exceptionally well in states such as California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana.

The bulbs or tubers, come in four grades or sizes. The largest, called jumbos, are best for home gardens. Bulb size predicts the number of flowers. Each jumbo bulb will produce some 35 cuttable flowers, compared to a fifth as many from a number three bulb.

To plant the bulbs, choose a location in full sun and be sure the soil is well drained. The one environment that ranunculus do not tolerate is warm and wet. The cool soil of fall and early spring offers some protection from rotting, but soil that is never soggy gives extra insurance. As long as soil retains some moisture, don't water again until you see sprouts, usually within 15 to 20 days.

Companion plants. Because ranunculus are cool-season bloomers, their natural companions include other cool-season flowers such as snapdragon (Antirrhinum), calendula, larkspur, Chinese forget-me-not, African daisy,  sweet pea and pansy.

Commercial growers can be found in Israel, South Africa and California, but California's production far exceeds other countries. All California-grown ranunculus are seed-grown plants of the Tecolote strain, and most are grown in and around Carlsbad. The tubers they produce will be harvested, dried, and packaged to sell to gardeners the subsequent fall.

In March and April, the California Tecolote ranunculus fields, 60 miles south of Anaheim and 30 miles north of San Diego, are so visible from the nearby highway that traffic slows even more than usual. So many people have turned off the highway and wandered through the fields that commercial grower began charging a fee. While visiting, you can buy cut flowers or tubers.

Located in Carlsbad, California, east of Interstate 5 off Palomar Airport Road, near LEGOLAND, California and Carlsbad Premium Outlets.  5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008   Call: (760) 431-0352.

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