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 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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

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

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

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