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.
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
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.