California always brings to mind beaches, sun and hot weather! One might be surprised to find out that many regions in California are quite temperate and rarely hot at all. One of the most important factors for the success of the best quality flowers grown in California is its microclimates. Location, location, location has never meant as much as it does to flower farmers here.
Microclimates are regions that have distinct variances in temperature based on altitude, proximity to the ocean and sun exposure. Temperatures can vary by more than 30 degrees in only 15 miles! These can be as small as a few square miles, therefore flower growers can take advantage of these areas by planting specific varieties accordingly. An example of this is iris; due to the varying temps throughout the state iris can be grown year round by changing planting regions. Growers in southern California grow in winter and spring and the northern growers can grow it summer through fall. The most temperate weather is coastal California. The weather in these coastal regions does not have the extreme swings in temps from winter through summer. The cold waters off the coast of California are the principle reason for it’s coastal Mediterranean climate.
Other regions further from the coast tend to experience much colder winters and hotter summers. These areas are ‘high’ desert, meaning deserts that are thousands of feet above sea level. Flower farmers use these extremes to their advantage as well. An example of that is stock; in the winter months production is moved to the ‘desert’ of California to take advantage of those temp variances. Once the heat of spring starts then production is moved back to coastal areas. If these growers did not have multiple climates within such close geographic proximity then they would not be able to grow many flowers year round. California has that distinct advantage over most growing regions world wide. So, although growers have learned how to use all of these microclimates to grow excellent quality flowers, they will have to continue to monitor these regions as our global climate changes.
Central coast of California
Coastal hillsides near Watsonville flower growing region
Stock grown on the California coast
Above are the annual average temps for a coastal growing region in north central California near Monterey. As you can see temps are not extreme throughout the year.