Blog: Peonies and Ants

Peonies and Ants

Ants crawling on my peonies.

Mare-Anne Jarvela


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The peonies in my backyard always have ants crawling on the flower buds. A popular myth that ants “tickle the buds” or “lick the sugar” to help them open is not really true. The ants are attracted to the sweet nectar exuded on the buds, but the blossoms would open regardless of the ants' presence.

The ants do provide protection—they attack other bud-eating pests by stinging, biting, or spraying them with acid and tossing them off the plant. By protecting their food supply, the ants help my peonies bloom.

The first buds usually open after Memorial Day. The pink, red, and old-fashioned white peonies are the focal points in my backyard. I treasure them in my garden, but I also fill my house with their beauty and fragrance. Before I move the blooms indoors I carefully shake off the ants.

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Ants on peonies

As a little girl, I always saw ants on my grandmother's peonies. She said they didn't cause any harm. Now that I have my own garden with peonies in honor of her, I fondly think of those long ago days when I see ants on my own peonies. They're just one of many different things I have growing that she also had in her yard. She loved gardening. If it hadn't been for her, those ants would have been gone long ago!

Peony and ants

I'm glad to hear the ants are beneficial as well. I've never done anything about them but always wondered how I could get rid of them. Before i bring them in the house I gently shake them as well, but then I dip them in a bucket of water. It's amazing how many little ants are left floating on the top!

blooming peonies

Peonies bloom earlier here than wherever you are. I remember as a child helping Mother and Grandmother gather the blooms to decorate graves on Memorial Day. Every year I long for a peony bush.

I am glad to hear how the

I am glad to hear how the ants contribute to the health of the peonies. I had thought about doing something to get rid of them, but I will leave them alone. Thanks for the information.

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