The ants hate my peonies

TerriBuck(7b NC)May 5, 2008

For the past 3 years, I've had two nice large peonies from my grandfather's garden in Missouri. They have lots of healthy leaves and are loaded with buds, but they never attract any ants so they never make any flowers. I put sugar water around their stems a couple of weeks ago as incentive but that hasn't worked either. Do southern ants dislike midwestern peonies??????

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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

Hahah they are usually always on the buds. I haven't seen too many on the buds this year though, but I haven't been looking to hard.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 11:34PM
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It's not the lack of ants; it's probably that you moved them from one zone to another. If you get peonies that were grown in this area, they should grow well for you here. I have 2 that are doing well here, growing in amended sandy soil on the western side of my house.

Here is a link that might be useful: See Jeanie's reply

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:18AM
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It takes peonies a few years to get settled in. It takes a certain number of cold days in the winter to signal the plant to form flower buds (this is why they shouldn't be planted very deep here in the south). Ants have nothing to do with forming flowers, they are only attracted to the nectar and do no harm to the flowers.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 9:30AM
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amulet(7b NC)

trianglejohn is right. The ants only get on the buds if the buds are developing properly and are producing nectar. So there is an underlying issue that is preventing the buds from developing properly, and it most likely is the depth of planting. If you planted them at the same depth they were planted in MO, it is most likely too deep to get enough chilling hours for the plant to develop the flower buds properly. Since NC is a much warmer zone, the peonies will need to be planted much closer to the surface.

If the buds have already stopped developing, you will not get any flowers this year. So you might as well wait until the fall after the leaves have died back (usually October or November here) to dig them up and bring the closer to the top of the soil. I usually plant mine with the buds peeking out of the soil and am able to grow most any variety this way.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 9:49AM
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TerriBuck(7b NC)

Thanks. I will plan to dig them up in the fall. I also have 3 others that were sent as gifts from a mail order company. They have never even formed buds. I'll dig those up too. Maybe one day I'll see flowers.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:11PM
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irislover_nc(z7 nc)

I have always heard that peonies, moreso than most any other plant, pouts when it is dug and/or divided. My mom told me to think long and hard about where I want my peonies before I plant them because they'll be there for a LONG time and moving them upsets them. So, if it were my plants in my garden, I might give them another season or two before I dug them up. I'd hate to start the pouting countdown clock all over again. Who knows though, since, if yours are in fact planted too deep, you might as well dig them ASAP and get it over with. Tough call! Wow...this post is the opposite of helpful. Sorry!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:40PM
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amulet(7b NC)

terribuck, you should be fine to dig and lift this fall. Your original post says you have had the peonies for 3 years. So they should be a nice size by now. Last fall I dug and lifted a peony I've for 4 years that had never bloomed, "Coral Fay", and this spring I got 9 blossoms on that plant. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 8:17AM
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Terri I moved my Festiva Maxima last year and it bloomed this year. I think they have to size up after division and that causes the delay in blooming after a move.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 9:42AM
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I just read an article about Peonies this morning in the complimentary spring issue of "Carolina Gardener" that arrived yesterday.

Basically it says that because of the heat, the right cultivars need to be chosen, and the need for well drained soil.

Aside from the depth issue, you might find that having moved them from another zone has had an effect and that they just take time to aclimate.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 3:27PM
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If you like where they are you could just remove mulch and soil from the area they are planted in and expose the crown to the winter cold (recover a bit in the spring after the buds have formed).

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 5:19PM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

Well, I feel really lucky! I have never even tried peonies because I heard they didn't do well here, but last hear a GW member had a perennial bed that needed to be removed so I went and got dozens of perennials. In that group was a peoney. I planted it in a well drained bed in full sun with the crown exposed....and this year I am totally shocked that is has been loaded with blooms and buds. I have no idea what variety it is, but I want more peonies now!! lol!!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 11:24AM
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