Updated: Jun 25
"Ants help peonies bloom by licking them open"
Let’s debunk this old wives' tale!
This old theory has been so widely and vigorously used that everyone truly believes it’s true!! My grandma will even encourage ants onto her blossoms to ‘ensure they open’. I kid you not, she will see ants on the driveway or other parts of the yard, catch them and transfer them onto her buds!! The myth is so ingrained that no matter how many times or ways I explain, she truly doesn’t believe me.
Here‘s the cold honest truth. Peony blossoms will bloom regardless of what creepy crawlers are on them.
Peonies do have a strong coating on their buds. They also do secrete a sugary sap as they develop. Ants go Gaga for that sugar and yes they will lap the sugar off the buds. No this doesn’t help the flower to open what so ever. Here is what it DOES do: it encourages ants onto the buds and while there they will defend their food source from other insects. Aphids also love peonies, but they rarely get a foothold since ants are so aggressive. Happy gardening everyone!