The Unexpected Way Martha Stewart Deals With Ants On Her Peony Flowers

If you're fortunate enough to have peonies growing in your garden, you've enjoyed their remarkable fragrance and lush, generous flowers. Considered a statement bloom for their unmistakable scent and size, they bring a calming, sweet vibe to your outdoor space ... and an inescapable army of ants as well. The reason ants clamber all over the buds before the flowers have fully opened is that they're on board for the snacks. With great beauty comes great responsibility, or so the saying goes, and in this case, that just means caring for our flowers thoughtfully. So what do we do to rid our peonies of their yearly ant infestation?

Garden and home guru Martha Stewart has banks and banks of peonies on her estate — you might feel as if you've stepped into a professional botanical garden. So, naturally, her garden attracts a lot of ants. But she has an unexpected way of dealing with her ant situation. Stewart's refreshing attitude is to enjoy the ants as much as you enjoy the flowers — que sera, sera — instead of seeing them as a problem.

Why ants aren't a problem for peonies

Peonies contain sugary nectar that ants love, adore, and can't get enough of. As you may know, in ant society, everyone has a defined job. Scout ants go out to forage for food, find it, and send signals back to the whole gang when they hit the motherlode. Generally, spotting a few ants means an army is standing by somewhere close. Because peonies produce a lot of nectar for a period of time before they bloom, ants will stream in to eat breakfast, napkins tucked into their collars.

But the truth is, ants aren't eating the flowers or poking holes in their petals. Peonies and ants have an agreement; the flowers provide them with a source of food, and the ants protect that food source by running off predator insects that would damage the flowers from the way they feed. Although it's thought that ants help open the flower buds due to their industrious foraging, peonies do just fine opening their own buds. If you're concerned about ants jumping off the peonies and heading for your kitchen, make sure your flowers are planted a slight distance away from your house.