Although it’s an old wives’ tale that peonies will not open without the help of ants, the two do have a symbiotic relationship. Ants protect their food source, the sweet nectar on the peony buds, and attack other bud-eating pests, keeping the peony safe from harm. Although it’s difficult to remove the ants permanently from buds, you can easily remove the ants once the peonies have blossomed.
- Moderately Easy
- Wait for the peonies to bloom before you remove ants. You can easily hose them off. Before you do, though, consider letting the ants feed on the bud’s nectar. Once the buds bloom, the majority of the ants will disappear with the sweet nectar that exists only on the blooms. Nature does most of the work for you.
- Cut long stems and shake the ants off before you bring the flowers into the house. If a couple of ants remain after shaking, they are easier to find once the majority have been removed.
- Wash the blooms before you bring a bouquet into the house. Dunking peony blooms into a buck of lukewarm water will remove all the ants. This is much safer than using pesticides.
Tips & Warnings
Plant your peonies away from your home. Ten feet should suffice. Planting peonies in flower beds next to your home is a open invitation for ants to come inside. Resist the temptation to plant peonies anywhere near the kitchen. Ants are always looking for a food source. Why tempt them?