A Dinner Plate for the Garden
If you want to grow flowers so showy they'll stop traffic, Avignon Dahlia (Dahlia 'Avignon') will not disappoint! With towering stems that can exceed 3 feet tall and spectacular "dinner plate" flowers that can reach up to 9 inches in diameter, this plant is no shrinking violet. But it's not simply the sheer size of the plants that makes it a showstopper - each white flower is splashed with violet and burgundy stripes and speckles!
A Little Care Reaps Big Rewards
Dahlias have a reputation for being a little finicky, but they're actually a snap to grow. For the payoff of abundant flowers later in summer, all you have to do is follow a few early-season care tips for your Avignon Dahlia:
• Plant in full sun (at least six hours each day).
• Loosen and amend the soil so it's rich and drains well.
• Avignon Dahlia grows from underground tubers, which you plant in your garden similar to other garden bulbs. You'll see some growth buds or eyes on the tubers - be careful when planting to keep these buds undamaged.
• Plant the tubers with the "eyes" (buds) and the stem -- where the plant was cut after the previous growing season -- up.
• As soon as the plant develops several sets of leaves, pinch out the growing tip. This will cause the young plant to branch out and produce more flowers.
Support Growing Plants
Avignon Dahlia plants will grow three to four feet tall, and they need a little help from you to keep them growing upright.
• Press a tall stake - five to six feet tall - 12 inches into the ground next to each tuber when you plant your dahlias.
• When the dahlia stem is 12 inches tall, tie it to the stake with soft fabric and continue tying it as it grows at 12-inch intervals.
You'll enjoy spectacular flowers in your garden as well as dramatic specimens for your indoor floral arrangements. Plants yield superb cut flowers, which are long-lasting in vases.
Tip: Avignon Dahlia flowers should be cut after they're fully open, because the buds won't open after cutting.
Lifting & Storing
If you live in Avignon Dahlia's perennial range (USDA plant hardiness zones 8-11), you can leave the tubers in the ground year round. But if you live outside this range, cold weather will kill the tubers.
Easy how-to for "lifting" the tubers each fall, storing them inside during the winter and re-planting them outside the following spring:
• After the first frost in autumn, cut the stem 6 inches above the ground.
• Carefully dig the tubers, being careful not to damage the eyes (buds). Lift the entire clump, digging about 12 inches away from the stem.
• Gently loosen and remove the soil around the tubers.
• Place the tubers in a cool, dry place - away from direct sunlight - and let them dry for a few days.
• Pack the tuberous clumps in cardboard boxes with peat moss, vermiculite or shredded paper covering them.
• Store boxes in a dark, cool (35-50 degrees F), dry place for the winter.