The Ants go Marching on the Peonies… Hurrah! Hurrah!


The peonies are in bud and the ants are out in force. I have always let the ants crawl all over my peonies. I am a live and let live sort of girl (except for slugs).

There has been alot of hulabulub over the past few decades or so about whether or not you should let or even need ants on peonies.

The garden myth is that peonies need ants on them in order for the buds to open properly. This is not true. A peony bud will open just as well with or without the ants.

But before you go running for the pesticide, the ants do serve a purpose. These ants will eat the bad insects that will hurt your peonies.

Mother Nature very rarely does something without a very good reason. Peonies secrete a sweet sap when they are in bud, which attracts the ants. The ants come for dessert but find a second helping of harmful insects. The peonies want the ants to come so that they have some protection. Pretty smart thinking, if you ask me.

Some people worry about the ants getting in their house, and this is a legitimate concern, but personally, I place ant repelling substances around the foundation of my house. This works pretty well and allows the beneficial-to-the-garden ants to go on doing what they do best.

There is a down side to peony bud sap though and that is that it doesn’t just attract ants. The peony bud sap attracts another kind of omnivore predator, the wasp. While ants are pretty harmless, wasps can get very aggressive if disturbed. It’s just something to keep in mind if you go near your peony beds.

The Ants go Marching on the Peonies… Hurrah! Hurrah! The Ants go Marching on the Peonies… Hurrah! Hurrah! And the rain keeps tumbling down, down, down, down.

5 thoughts on “The Ants go Marching on the Peonies… Hurrah! Hurrah!
  1. Pingback: Ants, Ants, Ants and More Ants

  2. Rose Hepner on

    this is my first year with peonies. When I saw the ants, I cut off the buds. Will they grow back. Did I blow the whole thing. I have two plants. I did not cut them back last fall so cut them and the buds back this year.

    [Reply]

  3. Pingback: Ants, peonies, poppy, and more «

  4. Steve Lazarz on

    Every year our peonies grow beautifully and huge. My wife would like to cut them and put them in a vase in the house.
    How do get rid of the ants? I heard that dunking the peony in ice water will help, is that a myth?
    Thank You for the advise.

    [Reply]

    keith johnson Reply:

    Well, what i’ve heard to do is to put the peonies in a vase, then put the vase in a shallow pan of water for a day. the ants come off and drown, and then it’s safe to set your peonies around the house ant free.

    [Reply]

  5. Rose Hepner on

    see my comment of 5/4/2008 regarding re-growth. Just to let you know the peonies (4 bushes of them,red, white and pink) are blooming full speed ahead. Have not been swamped with ants this year. Know better not to cut off buds. 3rd year for garden. Planted in August 2007.

    [Reply]

  6. elisa on

    The majority of buds on several of my peopnies have not enlarged and are now drying up. Why would some buds be viable and others not on the same plant?

    [Reply]

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