Monday, February 23, 2009

Peonies and Ants - "A Good Thing"

Have spent two days going through my Garden notebook and
getting everything updated and ready for this growing season.
It was a revelation into just how many plants I have collected
over the years. Also it was a little sad in seeing all of the plants
that I killed or had died out. Seems I never threw away a bill
or clipping which is very good when organizing a garden notebook
or journal. That is how I discovered how many plants that has
gone to the big garden beyond. :-) I put everything in a 3 ring
binder like other of you great gardeners have mentioned doing,
so now I am all up to date, all but drawing some new diagrams
of the beds and adding the plants to them. In the plant logs I wrote
where they were planted in lead pencil because I move things
around quite a bit and need to erase and update that sometimes.

I remembered while sorting through things that Grandma always
had several Peony plants in her yard. I believe that they were
popular in her day and everyone had them because they were
shared with your neighbors. I also remembered the big black ants
that use to always somehow be on the buds. What was it that the
ants liked so well when they never gathered on other flowers the
same way? So curious minds wants to know and I was off to find
the answer.
Going to the Heartland Peony Society website I discovered that I
was not alone in questioning this and that they had the answer.

They stated "not to try to get rid of the ants,that it was a natural
and temporary activity. Peonies produce a small amount of nectar
and other ant attractants to encourage the ants to help in opening
the dense double buds that are found on many peonies.
Once the buds open the ants disappear".
That contrary to the 'old wives tale' peonies will not cause
an infestation of ants and that ants are not Required to
open the flowers.

This was all very interesting and new information to me and I wanted
to share it with those who may have not known or may have not
even wondered about ants on their peonies.
So do not spray or try to get rid of the ants because they are
good in this instance and pollinate your peonies.

I only have one Peony plant in all of my flowers. It is old enough
now to be really pretty when it blooms in the early Summer.

Sorbet Peony
paeonia lactiflora Sorbet

It has beautiful pink and white double blooms that are 5-7
inches and is very fragrant. The foliage turns orange in the
Autumn. It grows in any climate and require little care.
It can also reach a height of 4 feet. Sun to part shade.
Zones 3-8. Prune in the Fall after frost.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful peony. I love peonies but the bloom time is so short and the foliage, although nice, isn't outstanding. I planted my two bushes in a far-off part of the garden so I can pick the blooms when they happen and ignore the plants for the rest of the year. I get the tiny sugar ants but not the big ones, thank God.(Big bugs of any kind completely undo me.)

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I get a lot of my plants through swaps/divisions, but I do save those plastic tags from anything I buy, and put them in the file drawer in my basement. Sometimes I search for a tag to recall the specific cultivar... and come across all these cute things that are no longer in my garden! DOH! But it is nice to see how much has been added.

Ann D. Travers said...

Hi Lona.
I'm envious of your diligence with your notebook. This makes such great sense heading into the gardening season. A great practice. Love that Sorbet!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Well your post title caught my attention because just yesterday I bought a peony. Can you believe it is the Sorbet you have in your post? I am planning to get out and plant it today. I'm glad to see a picture of how pretty it is!
Is it as fragrant as described?

Balisha said...

I don't have any peonies. I remember when we had graduations for my kids, my Grandma would come to the party with her arms loaded with 3 different colors of peonies.
the house would smell so wonderful. I love the Sorbet...

cindee said...

I always wondered that too. I always see them on there and then they are gone! Your peony is really pretty. I have three different ones. Two that bloom. Not sure why the third one has not bloomed. Maybe this year it will.

Kylee said...

Peonies are such a nostalgic plant for me. We have several. Your 'Sorbet' is beautiful!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Grace: I am with you I wish the blooms would last longer. The same thing with Poppies, which I do not even bother with anymore.

Monica: I had all of my tags in a plastic bag which was terrible.Now they are stapled to a plant log page.
I could not believe all of the plants I've lost or maybe thing I could :)

Ann: It just got to the point where somebody had to do something! It was just thrown in plastic bags.My memory is what prompted me to get it done. I have none anymore :)

Balisha: I remember the same thing! People use to bring them to decorate the gym for the kids.Good memories.

Cindee: I am glad girl I was not the only one who wondered.I wondered now if I ever sprayed the ants.ah ho!

Kylee: I think of them as an "Old Fashioned" flower because they were grown in older gardens. They hold memories for me also.

Kylee said...

Lona, you might find it interesting to read the post I did on the Peony Festival that's held every year in Van Wert.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Kylee: It looks like a very fun time. I love old house and looking at others gardens,to get some ideas for mine :) I would like to see a tree peony.

Kylee said...

I've got three tree peonies, in fact, one of them is one of the very first plants I bought when I started really gardening. I love them!

Randy Emmitt said...

Beautiful peony.... We have one here it's not doing so good. The guy that fixes my lawn mower has an amazing patch of them, but would not share.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Kylee: Now I am jealous if you have three of them. They must do alright in our cold climate then? Have fun at the Garden Show!

Randy: Why he could have divided a couple and shared with you and his would have grown better for doing it.
Thanks for dropping by.

Kim Klassen said...

wonderful information.... i recently just questioned my readers about this...and was surprised and fascinated by the information. :)
Sweet Geri Centonze sent me your way....

xxo, kim