Ants on sea holly plant

abgardener7July 24, 2013

This is the first sea holly that I've grown and I wasn't able to find any information on my problem so I hope someone here can help me.

Yesterday I noticed a bunch of ants on one of the flower cones and it looks like the ants are pulling out the seeds?? Or maybe the plant is seeding and the ants are attracted to it for some reason?? I would like to collect some seeds off my plants this fall but I've read that I will have to wait until the flower heads turn brown first. So if the ants are pulling out all the seeds, what can I do to get rid of them or at least make my flowers less attractive to them?

Thanks!

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MulchMama

Ants don't do any harm to any plants. And even if they're pulling out the seeds, as you put it, what's the problem?

Many times, ants are an indicator that you have aphids on those plants. Aphids secrete a thick, sweet substance that ants love.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 9:18PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

No worries, you'll have plenty of seeds. Mine reseeds quite freely...to the point of a bother sometimes. But since they attract every size, shape and type of pollinator for what seems like miles, and the color is quite nice, I keep it.

tj

My 'Blauekappe' just turning about two weeks ago.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 12:12AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Nice, tj. Gardener, that Eryngium is a much favored nectar plant might be a clue to what the ants are so interested in. I'd guess that they find it easy to access the nectaries of the florets, perhaps dismantling them to do so.

Also, this is such a favorite nectar plant for so many different pollinators that you should never do anything to make the flowers less appealing to the ants lest you deter all of the others from a valuable food source.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 6:08AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Ants are not harmful to Sea Holly anymore then they are to Peonies and Sea Holly is one of the many plants that are not a particular favorite of Aphids. The Ants are there because of the abundant food Sea Holly provides to many insect species, pollen, nectar, and is a good addition to any insectary.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 6:45AM
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abgardener7

Thank you for the replies. I'm glad the ants aren't doing any harm to my plant.

I met a lady who sold me some perennial orchids and she said she has one sea holly for several years and she has never been able to collect seeds from it, so I thought maybe insects such as ants were either eating them or pulling them out before the seeds mature. I'm glad to hear that is not the case.

Mulchmama, The reason I want to collect some seeds is that it took me several years to find a place that sold sea holly and I rescued this one from the clearance section at Home Depot in a different city. So you can say this is my baby and I want to grow more:) I don't seem to have much success growing from store bought seeds.

TJ - All I can say is "Wow!" I hope my plant will spread like yours.

rhizo and kimmsr - Thank you for the info

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 3:40PM
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