Resendiz Brothers: Cultivating rare beauty on steep Californian hillsides

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers cultivate a unique type of flower, Proteas, on their 200 acres in Rainbow, California, a quaint town nestled among the rugged, rocky hillsides of San Diego County.

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers cultivate Proteas, a unique flower species, on their 200 acres in Rainbow, California, a quaint town nestled among the rugged, rocky hillsides of San Diego County.

Diana Roy, the marketing manager for Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, is on a mission to introduce the public to these exceptional blossoms.

The journey of Proteas to the U.S. market dates back to the 1960s when these exotic flowers first made their debut. The knowledge of growing these exquisite blooms was passed down to Mel Resendiz over four decades ago by Howard Asper Senior, the horticultural trailblazer who initially introduced Proteas to America.

“The Mediterranean weather, this kind of climate, and the well-draining soil are perfect for Proteas,” Resendiz explains.

Proteas can flourish in some parts of the United States where the climate and topography provide the ideal conditions for their growth. However, the unique flowers are not without their challenges, demanding a great deal of patience.

It takes five years for a Protea plant to go from seed to producing a single flower. Even when propagated from cuttings, it still takes three years to witness the first bloom. Nevertheless, each plant can eventually yield as many as 45 flowers, with some bushes producing hundreds of blooms from a single plant. These hardy bushes can thrive for decades, with some still flourishing after 45 years.

Harvesting Proteas is a physically demanding task that spans ten months of the year. Resendiz Brothers overcome the steep and challenging terrain, which other farmers might deem unusable. Hiking up mountainsides, trimming towering bushes, and transporting these flowers, which are notably heavier than typical cut stems, are all part of the process.

Despite the physical challenges, Mel Resendiz finds solace in his work. He shares his secret to success:

“Every morning, I’m happy to go to work. Whether it’s farming on these steep and rocky hills or tending to the nursery or packing shed, I find joy in it. After sending my truck out, I sometimes come up to the hills, especially on a warm day, with a bottle of wine to sit amidst the flowers and enjoy.”
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