Do Peonies Need Ants to Bloom?

You see them every spring: ants crawling hungrily over peonies as they sip the sugary nectar from closed buds. You may have heard that peonies need ants to remove this nectar to allow the buds to bloom, but this a common misconception – peonies do not need ants to remove their nectar to bloom. 

peony bud ant

The sugary nectar that appears outside peony buds is very tasty to ants. Ants are attracted to this springtime treat, leaving a pheromone trail to signal to other ants that the peony nectar buffet is open. Once the nectar is completely gone, the ants leave and so does their pheromone scent, which means ants won't bother these plants after blooming. Ants do not damage peonies in any way so no pesticides, please! In fact, ants do your peonies a favour by protecting them from other harmful insects, so consider these critters your friends.

The nectar produced by peonies doesn't "glue" the buds shut. It's simply made of different sugars lipids which will easily wear or wash away without the help of ants. If for some strange reason you don't have ants in your garden, don't worry, your peonies will still bloom. 

Just be sure to give your cut peonies a shake before bringing your cut stems inside so you don't bring any ants in with you. Other than the mild annoyance of bringing the odd ant into the house, consider ants your – and your peonies – best friend!