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.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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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