How growth and proliferation are precisely controlled in organs during development and how the regulation of cell division contributes to the formation of complex cell type patterns are important questions in developmental biology. Such a pattern of diverse cell sizes is characteristic of the sepals, the outermost floral organs, of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. To determine how the cell size pattern is formed in the sepal epidermis, we iterate between generating predictions from a computational model and testing these predictions through time-lapse imaging. We show that the cell size diversity is due to the variability in decisions of individual cells about when to divide and when to stop dividing and enter the specialized endoreduplication cell cycle. We further show that altering the activity of cell cycle inhibitors biases the timing and changes the cell size pattern as our model predicts. Models and observations together demonstrate that variability in the time of cell division is a major determinant in the formation of a characteristic pattern.