Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fact or Fiction?


Grandma once told me that peonies needed ants to open up the blooms.  This some 20 years ago.  As a child I would love to sit with her and garden.  Perhaps that is where my gardening talents came from.  Peonies were her prized flower.  She waited those long winters just to see those gigantic blooms open and the heavenly scent that came from them.  So she told me that ants were needed to open the blooms.  Well I believed that until recently.  Why shouldn't I.   Grandma was a very smart lady. 

So I did some research on them and this is what I found.

If you’ve been growing peonies, you will notice that ants tend to congregate on peony plants, especially on the buds. There’s an old myth that peonies need ants to help them open their flower buds, but this is not the case. Ants visit peonies to dine on a sweet substance that is produced by the flower buds, but the ants do not eat or harm peony plants. Ants will hide in the blossoms and hitch a ride into the house on cut peony flowers, however. Avoid bringing ants inside with your bouquets by harvesting peony blooms before they are fully open.

So I guess it is a myth, but deep down inside I believe there must be some truth to it.  Grandma was a wise old lady.

Peonies are also my favorite flower.  I just wish that there beautiful blooms would last a little longer.  And oh Grandma if you could see my peonies today you would be so proud.  I have cherished your peony since the day I brought her home to live with me.  She is doing very well.


  1. Love peonies too! We have about half a dozen here, mostly old, unnamed cultivars that are gorgeous and bloom their faces off every spring. I wish they bloomed longer, because their divine fragrance and blowsy blossoms just make me soooo happy. Thanks for making me feel warmer on a cold (but sunny!) morning.

  2. Peonies are my favorite too! I've never tried growing them in Albuquerque because I assumed it was too hot and dry, but maybe I should try. I'm feeling inspired after your post! Thanks!

  3. Jodi, don't they just warm your heart on a cold Canadian winter day. I can almost smell them if I try hard and feel their soft petals.
    Liza, I know that if it is too hot they do not do well, but it is definitely worth the try. I've tried many flowers that are not suitable for our area and they are doing just find with a little TLC.

  4. I alao am a peony lover. My grandmother used to tie the first to flower on my birthday present.
    I know that they do not need ants to open, there is no ants in the flower shop, and yet they still open. I guess it is an old wives tale.

  5. When I was a child we had several peony bushes in our yard which had been planted long before we moved there. I loved those luscious blooms! Many peonies don't do well as far south as we are, but I have planted a couple, hoping they might be like the ones of my childhood. No luck yet. But I have seen some cultivars advertised for the South, so I will try again.

  6. Your peonies are lovely and I agree they just don't bloom long enough. 'Bout a minute and a half around here. ;-(

  7. Hello there Cheryl

    My grandad grew loads of them - mostly the redish pink type from what I can remember as a child - name unknown and I just loved them. We never picked them to bring indoors. I grow Sarah Bernhardt and Bowl of Beauty in my own garden and I love their exquisite blooms. I am not sure if you have noticed but their foliage in the Autumn time has lovely tints also. :) Rosie

  8. I really want to try growing peonies this year :D Unlike one of the previous commentors, I believed it was too hot and humid for them to bloom properly, and not stay all balled up. I've only seen two cultivars in the nursery, the 'Sarah Bernhardt' and 'Karl Rosenfield'.

    Nice blog! :D

  9. I am always fascinated to watch small columns of ants marching up and down a plant to milk their flocks of aphids. I use them as my aphid police, but then feel obliged to leave them a few when I wash the main herd away!
    Nice to know they also act as peony opening sentries - busy members of the garden indeed.