Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Ants in your Plants? It’s a Good Thing!

20150614AEvery June, I received dozens of emails from panicked gardeners saying something like: “Ants are eating my peony flowers: what should I do?” But appearances are deceiving.

No, the ants are not eating your peonies. Nor do they cause any damage whatsoever to the plant or its flowers. If ants are on the flower buds and flowers of peonies, it’s to eat the sweet nectar the buds give off. Run your finger on over a flower bud and taste the sweet nectar that sticks to it: delicious!

And no, the ants “do not open peony flowers by licking them” (another myth I sometimes hear). The flower will open even in the absence of any ants.

20150614BAuthorities believe that the peony purposely sets out to attract ants. Ants are indomitable predators and offer the peonies they visit protection against harmful insects and other pests, plus they carry away any disease spores they might run into.

So if you see ants on your peonies, it’s simply a sign that all is well. Certainly, no treatment is needed.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

4 comments on “Ants in your Plants? It’s a Good Thing!

  1. Ah, but what about the symbiotic relationship between ants and aphids?

  2. Pingback: Cut Flower Peonies Without Ants – Laidback Gardener

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