Gardening

Don't worry about ants on peonies

We’re seeing ants again on peony buds again this year. It happens every spring. They show up as soon as the buds get some size to them and they stick around all through flowering.

Ants and peonies just seem to go together.  Many long time gardeners believe you must encourage the ants because you can’t have good peony flowers without them.  We now know that is an old wives’ tale.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are gardeners who fret and worry about the ants so much that they try to destroy every ant on their peonies. They think the ants are hurting the peonies and inhibiting flowering. That belief is just as much an old wives’ tale.

In fact, ants on peonies are pretty much neutral — neither good nor bad. They are there only to feed on the sugary surface coating that is secreted by the buds. And that causes no damage.

There's just a few ants pictured here however sometimes there are so many ants that they cover nearly the entire bud.

There’s just a few ants pictured here however sometimes there are so many ants that they cover nearly the entire bud.

Peony ants are so well behaved they won’t even try to get into your house so there is no need to worry about that either.

Sometimes an ant or two will ride into the house on cut flower stems. To avoid that, cut the flowers just before they open and knock off any ants you find before you bring them into your home.

Gardening has enough challenges without having to worry about ants on peonies. So go ahead and cross that one off your list.

Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.