What Do PeoniesPeony And Ants – A Surprisingly Symbiotic Relationship

Close-up of a peony flower with ants crawling on it.Peonies are a cherished addition to any garden, but what about those pesky ants that always seem to be crawling on them? Did you know peonies and ants share an intriguing symbiotic relationship? In this article, we discuss the fascinating connection between these two organisms, debunking myths and highlighting unexpected benefits.

Let’s dive into the hidden world of peonies and ants – it’s more exciting than you think!

Key Takeaways

  • Peonies and ants have a symbiotic relationship, with peonies attracting ants with sweet nectar and ants providing protection against harmful insects.
  • Ants do not directly assist in the opening of peony buds, but their presence helps defend the flowers from pests and aids in pollination.
  • To keep ants away from peonies, use natural deterrents such as cinnamon or vinegar solution, practice proper garden maintenance, and take precautions when cutting peonies to prevent bringing in ants.

The Relationship Between Peonies and Ants

Ants on blooming peonies in a field, captured in high resolution.Peonies and ants have a fascinating relationship, with the plant producing sugars to attract the insects.

Why do peonies attract ants?

Peony buds produce a sweet nectar that acts like an irresistible dinner bell for ants. Drawn by this sugary treat, the ants flock to the peonies, covering the buds in a seemingly endless sea of tiny bodies.

However, their attraction lasts just a short while, precisely until the nectar supply dwindles. Contrarily to popular belief, these ants are not required for peony blossoms to bloom but simply enjoy the rich food source they provide – proving true that “the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach”.

What do ants do for peonies?

In the fascinating dance of peony and ants, each participant benefits. The peonies attract their tiny garden allies with a sweet siren song of nectar. This sticky, clear sap is like a gourmet dinner for ants, turning peony buds into an irresistible smorgasbord.

But it’s not all about free meals in this green haven.

For their part, ants provide a line of defense for the delicate flowers. Acts as dutiful bodyguards warding off harmful insects that might seek to harm the blossoms or feast on their leaves.

Their protective services come at no cost to the plant itself since these loyal guardians do not harm their floral charges but help maintain them in pristine shape instead. So while it may look like these insects are just freeloading on your favorite flowers, they’re actually playing an integral role in keeping those blooms looking picture-perfect throughout the season!

The Benefits of the Symbiotic Relationship

Peony flowers and ants, vibrant and lively atmosphere in nature.Ants assist in peony bud opening, protect against harmful insects, and aid in pollination.

Ants assisting in peony bud opening

Contrary to the popular belief that ants assist in the opening of peony buds by removing a sticky substance, this is actually a myth. Ants crawling over the peonies are not helping them bloom; instead they are attracted to the flower’s nectar.

They find this food source irresistible and while seeking it out, end up offering protection against other destructive insects as an inadvertent yet beneficial byproduct of their feast.

They actively remove pests from these blossoms ensuring continued growth and bloom for these flowers. This interaction paints a picture of mutual benefit rather than one-sided assistance – demonstrating nature’s beautiful balance!

Protection against harmful insects

Peonies and ants have a unique symbiotic relationship, where the ants offer protection against harmful insects for the peony plants. Aphids and thrips are small insects that can cause damage to the leaves, stems, and buds of plants by sucking their sap.

However, the presence of ants on peony flowers helps defend them from these pests. The ants actively remove other insects that may harm the peonies and ensure their health and well-being.

This natural defense system is an amazing example of how organisms coexist and benefit from each other in nature.

Aiding in pollination

Ants play a surprising role in aiding the pollination process for peonies. While they do not directly serve as pollinators, their presence helps attract other pollinators like bees and butterflies to the flowers.

As ants move around the peony buds, they inadvertently brush against the pollen-covered stamens, causing some of it to stick onto their bodies. When these ants then visit other peony blooms or nearby flowers, they unintentionally transfer this pollen, aiding in cross-pollination.

This assistance from ants ultimately contributes to the reproduction and genetic diversity of peonies, making them an important part of the ecosystem surrounding these beautiful flowering plants.

Dealing with Ants on Peonies

To keep ants away from peonies, use natural deterrents, maintain the garden properly, and cut peonies without bringing in ants.

Natural deterrents for ants

To deter ants from peony plants, there are several natural options available. Here are some effective deterrents:

  1. Cinnamon: Sprinkling cinnamon around the base of the peony plant acts as a repellent, as ants dislike its strong scent.
  2. Diatomaceous earth: This natural powder is made from crushed fossilized algae and works by dehydrating insects like ants. Applying a thin layer around the plant can discourage ants from approaching.
  3. Citrus peels: Placing citrus peels near the peony plants can help repel ants due to the strong smell they emit.
  4. Vinegar solution: A mixture of equal parts water and vinegar can be sprayed directly on ant trails or around the plants to deter them.
  5. Mint leaves: The strong scent of mint repels ants. Placing crushed mint leaves or using mint essential oil in a spray bottle can keep ants away from the peonies.

Proper garden maintenance

To prevent ants from becoming a nuisance on your peonies, it’s important to follow a few practices for proper garden maintenance. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Regularly inspect your peony plants for any signs of ants or ant trails.
  • Keep the surrounding area clean and free from debris that may attract ants.
  • Avoid over – watering your peonies, as excessive moisture can create an environment that ants are drawn to.
  • Trim back any nearby vegetation or tree branches that may serve as a bridge for ants to access your peonies.
  • Apply mulch around the base of your peony plants, as this can help deter ants from crawling up the stems.
  • Consider using natural deterrents such as cinnamon, citrus peels, or coffee grounds around your peonies to discourage ants from approaching.
  • If necessary, you can use ant baits or sprays specifically designed for outdoor use to control ant populations in your garden. Be sure to read and follow the instructions carefully.

Cutting peonies without bringing in ants

To prevent ants from entering your home when cutting peonies, follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose the right time for cutting: Cut peonies early in the morning or late in the evening when ants are less active.
  2. Shake off the ants: Before bringing the peonies indoors, gently shake the flowers to remove any clinging ants.
  3. Rinse the stems: Give the stems a quick rinse under running water to ensure all remaining ants are washed away.
  4. Use a clean vase: Fill a vase with fresh water and place your cut peonies inside. Make sure the vase is free from any lingering ants or residue.
  5. Keep an eye out: Check your peonies periodically for any signs of new ant activity. If you notice ants returning, repeat steps 2 and 3 before placing them in a new vase.
  6. Enjoy your ant-free bouquet: Now you can safely display your beautiful peonies without worrying about unwanted ant guests.


In conclusion, the relationship between peonies and ants is truly fascinating. While peonies do not rely on ants to bloom, the presence of ants can benefit these beautiful flowers in multiple ways.

From assisting in bud opening to protecting against harmful insects and aiding in pollination, the symbiotic bond between peonies and ants is one that has stood the test of time. By understanding how to deal with ants on peonies through natural deterrents and proper garden maintenance, we can continue to appreciate this unique relationship while enjoying our stunning blooms without bringing in unwanted guests.


1. What is a symbiotic relationship between peonies and ants?

The symbiotic relationship between peonies and ants refers to the mutually beneficial interaction where ants are attracted to the sweet nectar produced by peony buds and flowers, while they in turn help protect the plant from harmful pests.

2. How do ants benefit from this relationship?

Ants benefit from their association with peonies by obtaining a source of food through the nectar produced by the plant. They are also provided with shelter within the peony buds or among its foliage.

3. How do ants protect peonies from pests?

Ants help protect peonies from pests by actively removing or preying upon harmful insects such as aphids that may feed on the plants’ leaves or buds. They act as a natural form of pest control for the peonies.

4. Can I encourage an ant-peony relationship in my garden?

Yes, you can encourage an ant-peony relationship in your garden by creating favorable conditions for both parties involved. This includes planting attractive varieties of peonies, providing adequate sources of water and ensuring there are no chemicals present that may be harmful to ants or disrupt their attraction to the plants’ nectar.