California growers account for 75 percent of all domestically grown cut flowers in the United States. It is the nation's top flower growing state. 25% of U.S. cut flowers come from California, with the other 75% coming from other countries.
California Cut Flower Industry claims that California is where the cut flower business began in the U.S. It points to the late 1870's and a housewife named Theodosia Shepherd. She lived in lush Ventura on the Central Coast, where the climate is perfect for flowers all year long. Inspired to sell her calla lilies, she took them to market, and when other housewives saw her success, followed suit.
The California Floral industry's commercial nurseries were started near Oakland by the Domoto family in the 1890's . These Japanese immigrants started a nursery circa the 1880's. In 1883 John Frazier dug the first well in the north county to supply water to his 126 acres near what is now Carlsbad. This was the beginning of the agricultural boom in the area. Several years later, Luther Gage came to the Carlsbad area to grow gladioli, freesias, ranunculi and anemones. Gage was the first Carlsbad area grower to ship to the LA Flower Market in the winter. Paul Ecke, Sr. also planted his first poinsettia crop in Encinitas.
During the Japanese interment, Paul Ecke, Sr. was among several growers who stored farm equipment and household goods for his friends that were removed from their homes.
In 1967, complete with 31 family members and a 100,000 square-foot greenhouse Case, Hank, John and Bill Van Wingerden set sail from their native Naaldwijk, Holland for Carpinteria, California. News of the Van Wingerden's success reached Holland and other Dutch growers were inspired to immigrate as well.