Do the ants on my peony flowers help buds to open, or is this an old wives’ tale? What are the extremely tiny, microscopic yellow wormy looking bugs crawling on my pink peony flowers? My peonies are beautiful, but I don’t want all these bugs.
Peony buds exude a sweet viscous sap that attracts ants. The ants do not generally affect the opening of peony buds. The old tale could have arisen because ants are occasionally seen eating large transparent drops of sap on the buds.
The tiny worms you describe are common yellow thrips, which are attracted to light-colored flowers. Thrips suck juice from buds, petals and leaves. Their triangular bodies are too small and move too fast to be hosed off the plant. A systemic insecticide should be used to prevent plant injuries.
“Peonies are such old time nostalgic favorites that people excuse their shortcomings,” says Mary Ellen Murphy, perennial plant specialist, Pesche’s Garden Center, Des Plaines. “To use the flowers indoors in cut arrangements, pick them when the buds are soft and show color, and then rinse the stems outside with a hose to remove insects.”
I am sick of slugs. Perhaps if I knew their life cycle I could get rid of them. Where do they go over winter? Where do they come from? What is the best way to get rid of them?
I would like to start seeds under lights. When is the best time to start flower seeds? The seed packet always says to sow a number of weeks before the last frost. When is the last frost?
Must I mulch my garden and, if so, when is the best time to apply it? What are the best materials to use?