A Comprehensive Guide To Ants And Peonies

source: Walter Reeves

Along with roses and hydrangeas, peonies have always been one of my favorite flowers. They are beautiful, delicate-looking flowers that produce stunning blooms in a variety of colors (usually on the pink spectrum). For years, I’ve heard people take one of two sides when it comes to peonies: that ants are extremely damaging to them, and that they need ants in order to bloom. Today, we’re going to set the record straight – because neither of these points is true!

source: Wild About Ants

Firstly, ants are not harmful to peonies, so there’s absolutely no need to swat them away or use harsh insecticides. Ants are attracted to peonies because they release nectar at the base of the bloom. When you see ants on a peony, they are not actually eating the flower – they are simply eating the sugary nectar. Once the peony blooms, the ants move on.

source: Flickr/Ted Roger Karson

Secondly, there’s a common misconception that peonies need ants to “tickle the buds,” which is the only way they will bloom. This is, in fact, false. Peonies will bloom whether or not there are ants crawling along the bud. However, ants are beneficial to peonies in a different way – they get rid of other harmful pests during their time spent eating the nectar on the peony buds.

source: Gardening Know How / iStock

So, now you know that ants are not harmful to peonies, nor is the peony dependent on ants in order to grow. If you wish to cut some peonies and arrange them in a vase in your house, simply hold the peony’s stem, just below the bud, and give a gentle shake (you don’t want the flower to snap from the stem). The ants will generally fall right off, though they are less likely to still be hanging around a peony that’s already bloomed.

source: Fine Art America/Kathy Fornal

Hopefully you found this information helpful! As you likely know, there are many myths when it comes to gardening, and it can be difficult to determine what’s true and what’s false. At least you now know a little more information about the glorious, classic, and picturesque peony!