Peonies, like many garden flowers, attract wildlife. The flowers’ fragrance lures hummingbirds, and the sweet nectar of the flowers draws ants. The ants, in turn, catch the attention of hungry, insect-eating birds.
Peonies bloom in many colors, from reds to white.
Peonies grow in two types, both hybridized garden varieties and woody, shrub-like forms known as tree peonies. They range in color from red to lavender to white.
Attracting Black Ants
Peony buds secrete nectar irresistible to ants.
Peony buds produce a small amount of sweet nectar during the early spring. Black ants attracted to the nectar tug lightly on the petals, aiding in the opening of the flowers, but not hurting them.
Hungry Migrating Birds
Robins, like many birds, fancy ants as food.
Many migratory birds leave their breeding grounds when insects die with the onset of winter. As the birds return in early spring, they seek their favorite food items. For ground foragers like northern flickers, various species of thrushes and others, ants congregating on peonies make easy targets.
Hummingbirds across North America enjoy nectar.
While many of the fifteen varieties of hummingbirds in North America can be seen lingering near peonies, the flowers’ nectar does not make up a significant portion of their diet.
Peonies as Sanctuary
The density of peonies provide safe havens for small birds.
Peonies provide shelter for small birds wary of attack from lurking backyard predators such as cats, Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks.