Peonies are the show-stoppers of the garden with their large, vibrant blooms that come in a variety of colors. Their sweet fragrance fills the warm summer air, and their resilience means they come back year after year.

But there’s one thing about peonies that might catch you off guard: they’re often covered in ants.

Wait! Don’t panic about the ants just yet.

Pink flower peonies bloom and ants in summer garden on blurry background.
Getty Images

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It's true: you can't beat the beauty of a peony, but you can't help but notice their talent for attracting ants—lots of ants. So, should you spray your peonies to keep those pesky ants away? According to experts: absolutely not.

So says the Country Garden Flower Company, a two-person garden and flower expert team located near Colchester in the UK. They say that every year they are asked the same question when they start posting photos of their own peony harvest. So they took to social media to get the peony vs. ants truth out there:

The ants are not attacking your peony buds! They are simply grabbing an easy sugary meal.

Interestingly enough, it turns out that this is less a horror story, and more of a love story—between the ants and the peonies.

Don't Spray Your Peonies

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Welcome to the World of "Biological Mutualism"

The Integrated Pest Management Program at the University of Missouri contends that it is an example of "biological mutualism" which just means that both species benefit from the other's presence in some way.

Simply put, peonies produce nectar that ants love because it gives them a lot of energy, allowing them to perform the heavy lifting they are known for. Although peonies don't actually need ants to bloom (which is a common myth), the ants help protect the flowers from harmful pests.

How Do You Get Ants Off Peonies?

What if You Want to Bring Your Peonies Inside WITHOUT the Ants?

One of the joys of growing peonies is bringing their beauty inside. But how do you avoid bringing the ants in with them?

Experts agree: Don't spray! Instead, try these options. First, hang the blooms and give them a good, firm shake. This will remove most of the ants, especially if the blooms haven't opened too far.

Alternatively, you can submerge the unopened blooms in warm tap water. According to Country Living, this not only detaches the ants but also encourages your buds to bloom.

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