Inside the Icon: The Flower Fields
Carlsbad’s colorful acres never fail to charm
Photo by Peter Kunasz / Shutterstock
Visit the Icon
5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad
Dating back to the 1920s, the Flower Fields represent roughly 90 years of dedication from three families: those of Luther Gage, an early settler and grower; Frank and Edwin Frazee, a father-son flower-farming duo whose Oceanside operations expanded along the North County coast; and Paul Ecke Jr., who carried on Frazee’s legacy after his retirement.
The Flower Fields moved to its current location in Carlsbad in 1965. In 1993, Ecke joined forces with grower Mellano & Company to keep the flower business going. Today, the San Luis Rey-based company maintains operations and the Ecke family owns the land.
Blooms by the Numbers
Each season, more than 70 million flowers come and go at the 50-acre site; 7 million ranunculus are cut and sold across the nation. The flowers have a long vase life of seven to 10 days once cut.
What’s a Ranunculus?
The flower, a member of the buttercup family, is native to Asia Minor and is also known as a Persian Buttercup or Ranunculus Asiatic. The Flower Fields’ specific strain, the Tecolote Giant Ranunculus, was named after the local owls on Gage’s property.
Bees Be Gone
Ranunculus have no fragrance and are wind-pollinated, meaning no bees needed.
Although the flowers need watering two to three times per week, the farm uses a highly efficient drip irrigation system buried in the flowerbeds. The infrastructure was built during a drought in the 1980s.
The Flower Fields staffs roughly 60 people to cut flowers seven days per week for 10 to 15 weeks each year.
Traditionally, ranunculus come in white, red, and yellow. The vibrant purples, pinks, and oranges are the result of cross-pollination and creative growing. Unique colors like café, lavender, and the multicolored picotee have all burst their way onto the field.
During the season after 9/11, the Flower Fields planted a 300-by-170-foot floral American flag out of nearly 10,000 red, white, and blue petunias.
Flowers for Mom
The Flower Fields hosts a number of events from March through May, including a photography workshop, Kids Day, and a special Mother’s Day Celebration on May 10.