A Colourful Blaze of Spring Flowers at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

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A field of plum, rose and red ranunculus in bloom at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

Fifty acres of ranunculus bloom in springtime in Carlsbad
in North San Diego County, California

Every spring the hills in Carlsbad, North San Diego County, California burst with brilliant blooms of colour.

Ranunculus blooming at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields create a blaze of colour: yellow, orange, pink, red

The multi-colour blooms of the ranunculus flowers at the Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields with the city in the background

Located in the midst of an urban setting, next to Carlsbad Premium Outlets, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are more than fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers.

A selection of ranunculus blooms
Ranunculus blooms

The ranunculus is native to Asia Minor and a member of the buttercup family. It is commonly referred to as Persian Buttercup.  Originally the flowers were single petal and ranged in shades of red and yellow. Today’s flowers are fuller and bloom in thirteen different colours as the result of years of careful selection done by Edwin Frazee.

Different coloured ranunculus blooms

Luther Gage first brought ranunculus seeds to the area in the 1920s. He began growing them in the field next to Frank Frazee’s small vegetable farm in South Oceanside. In 1933 Frank Frazee also started growing ranunculus and introduced his son Edwin to the art of seeding, cultivating and irrigating the pretty but not yet popular flower.

The flowers have been on the current site since 1965. Prior to 1951, the land was used for dry-farmed crops like lima beans and oat hay because there was no water available. Paul Ecke Sr acquired the land in 1951 and after piping in water from a well drilled on site, began raising poinsettias.

Display of poinsettia plants at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields
Display of poinsettias and information about them in the Poinsettia House are a tribute Ecke family

In the 1960s, the Ecke family stopped growing poinsettias on the land and move all propogation into greenhouses. In 1965, Edwin Frazee moved his ranunculus along with his gladiolus growing operation to the site.

There is more than ranunculus at the Flower Fields. The area just inside the entrance is home to cultivated garden space containing delphiniums, geraniums, poppies, petunias, and more.

A Display of assorted planted flowers

Delphiniums and poppies at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

A display of red and pink flowers in the front area of Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

A collection of raised flower beds containing trellises of hollyhocks and other flowers in the Artists Garden at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields
In 2002, artist Patricia Patterson created the Artists Garden “inspired by the cloistered gardens of the medieval era known as pleasure gardens”
Raised flowers beds in the Artists Garden at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields
Another view of the Artists Garden
A collection of cymbidium orchids on tables inside the greenhouse at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields
The Cymbidium orchid greenhouse

Cymbidium orchids are grown and sold as part of the Flower Fields Cymbidium Orchids project. Native to the tropical and subtropical highlands of Asia and North Australia, Cymbidium orchids are the quintessial orchid for California. They are the easiest to grow and produce long-lasting blooms.

Different coloured cymbidium orchid blooms from the greenhouse at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

There is a sweet pea maze, a rose garden, and a small section where Master Gardeners of San Diego have created some displays. But the highlight of The Flower Fields remains the fields of ranunculus, providing dazzling displays of colour as far as you can see.

A field of yellow ranunculus blooms at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

A field of plum-coloured ranunculus blooms at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

Rows of multi-coloured ranunculus blooms at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

Planting begins in fall. The seeds are so lightweight silica sand is mixed with then when they are sown. A tractor then covers them with mulch and compost. The seeds take about four to five weeks to germinate and six months to bloom. After the flowers fade and plants die back, the bulbs are harvested by machine, air dried, sorted by size, and packaged for sale. The Tecolote Giant ranunculus bulbs are distributed by California Flowerbulb Company.

An old tractor in the ranunculus blooms at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

There are a few benches set into the fields to give you the opportunity to sit and take your photo against the background of colourful blooms. A couple of old tractors in the fields also provide photo opportunities.

Workers cutting buds in the ranunculus fields at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields
Workers cutting ranuniculus buds for sale in the store
Bouquets of ranunculus ready for sale
Bouquets of ranunculus ready for sale

A field of pink ranunculus blooms at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

A field of orange ranunculus blooms at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

A field of red and rose ranunculus blooms at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are open daily (9 am to 6 pm) from early March to early May. There are walking paths around the fields. Wagon rides are available at a small extra charge.

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PIN ITColourful ranunculus flowers in bloom at Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields, California #California #SanDiego #springflowers #ranunculus

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  1. On the east coast of the US we are desperately looking for signs of spring. A field full of beautiful flowers is a welcome site even if only viewed online.

    1. Ken, spring is elusive in many parts of Canada and the U.S. this year. Glad you could enjoy the flowers online for a bit.

    1. Cindy, there wasn’t a strong scent in the ranunculus fields, just a very fresh one. There was a more floral scent in the plantings in the area before the fields.

  2. I could look at these flower photos for hours! Wish I could see them in person. There’s something about bright colors that improve my mood. Thanks for sharing these with me while waiting for Spring to arrive here in Indiana!

  3. The Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields are indeed spectacular! I’ve visited as well. I was drawn by the relatively unusual ranunculus, which hold a special place in my heart because I had them in my wedding bouquet. Love seeing your colorful images.

    1. Carole, I wasn’t familiar with ranunculs before. You are the second person who’s told me about ranunculus in wedding bouquets since I’ve posted this article. I think they’d be lovely in a wedding bouquet.

    1. Linda, I’m back home in Manitoba now and will also have to wait to see real flowers. I’ll have to make do with these photographs until then.

  4. Oh how I would love to photograph such a riot of color. Ranunculous are one of my favorite cut flowers and to see them spread across all those fields at the Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields must have been breathtaking. We have a tulip farm close by in Rhode Island that should be coming into focus soon. Unfortunately it is snowing as I type, so I pray the flowers will survive.

    1. Alison, I was unfamiliar with ranunculus until I visited these fields. Riot of colour is a good description. I hope the tulips near you survive and spring comes soon.

  5. This is so gorgeous! I’ve not heard of this place before and can’t wait to check it out. All of the ranunculous in bloom is rather unbelievable, but I have to admit that I’m almost as excited about seeing all the Cymbidium – I love them and mine hasn’t re-bloomed in years now 🙁 Anyway, a very cool place and very fun to see your photos on a snowy week in Minnesota!

    1. Cindy, it is pretty spectacular. The orchids were beautiful too. I have never tried growing them, but am a bit tempted now though.

  6. Donna, you just gave me some great news. I live only two hours away from Carlsbad and I had no idea they have this great flower display there in spring. Looks like such a wonderful place to visit and photograph! I came across your post just in time I think because next week my relatives from Europe are coming over and they wanted to visit San Diego. I guess I could take them to Carlsbad as well.

    1. Susanne, it is pretty spectacular. I’d certainly recommend visiting the Flower Fields if you’re in this part of California in spring time.