November 13, 2010

More about Peonies

If you’re like me, plants elicit memories of people and places. Some plants conjure recent memories; and others take us back to the beginning.

I remember Peonies from early trips to my aunts’ and grandmothers’ houses. They were pleasant memories, so maybe that’s part of the reason I like Peonies so much.

While they aren’t native to the Americas, Peonies have been a part of the North American landscape since Thomas Jefferson’s time. He wrote about them when documenting his gardens at Monticello, Va.

The one thing I didn’t like about Peonies was the ants. I can remember them crawling all over the flower buds and stems of the plants in those gardens of my childhood memories. Who can blame the ants when Peonies’ sweet nectar is so irresistible?

As a young adult, I thought bringing Peonies into the house was an absolute mistake. No one wants an ant infestation.

But then a friend mentioned a couple of techniques for removing the ants before bringing them inside:

  • After cutting, turn Peonies upside-down and shake carefully, but gingerly, for about 30 seconds; and
  • Submerge the bloom heads in a bucket of lukewarm water for about 10 minutes, and then gently shake off the water before arranging the flowers.

The combination of those two techniques really does seem to take care of the ants.

Peonies can live for 75 years or more, according to “Care-Free Plants.” I hope to always have Peonies in my garden.


  1. I am new to your blog. I enjoyed the post and you have lovely images on your site. I too have peonies and have been bringing them in for a while. Your tips are very helpful to those that are afraid of having them inside in our area. Some years they last longer inside than out. What a shame too, they are one on my most favorite flowers.

  2. Thank you, gardenwalkgardentalk! Any particular varieties you enjoy?

  3. Beautiful photo and great info on ant removal! Would you like to submit this post for my new blog carnival?

  4. Hello there. I'm also new to your blog. Isn't it funny how those childhood garden and flower memories still shape us? I love peonies, too, but don't have any of my own. Never lived anywhere I could grow them until now! Your images are great--keep getting out there and experimenting. Always pays off! Thank you for the link :)

  5. Lynn: I like the idea of your microblog on your site.

  6. In Chinese culture, we regard peonies as the Queen of all flowers. As I live in Malaysia, I have never seen a real peony bloom. We use a lot of the artificial ones for decorations during our New Year. When is the best time to see peonies blooms?

  7. Hi Autumn Belle: The Peonies usually bloom here in my state from mid-May through early June. Imagining their scent right now and dreaming about springtime. I'm looking forward to learning more about Malaysia through your blog.