A How-To Guide to Gardening by the Moon

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Learn How to Garden and Plant by the Moon's Phases

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Gardening by the Moon is a great way to plan your garden. Many of our readers follow the age-old practice of planting by the Moon’s phases for healthier, more productive gardens. 

Gardening by the Moon isn’t anything new. Gardeners and farmers have been using Moon-phase gardening for ages! Best of all, it’s a fairly simple process.

What Is Gardening by the Moon?

From what we are reading, many trend watchers are confused about Gardening by the Moon. No, it’s not about gardening at night or planting in your PJs!

Gardening by the Moon

The basic idea behind Gardening by the Moon is that the cycles of the Moon affect plant growth. Just as the Moon’s gravitational pull causes tides to rise and fall, it also affects moisture in the soil.

Therefore, it’s said that seeds will absorb more water during the full Moon and the new Moon when more moisture is pulled to the soil surface. This causes seeds to swell, resulting in greater germination and better-established plants. 

Moon phase gardening considers two periods of the lunar cycle: the time between the new Moon and the full Moon (the waxing of the Moon) and the time between the full Moon and the new Moon (the waning of the Moon). It’s considered best to plant certain types of plants during the waning of the Moon and other types during the waxing.

Harvest Moon

The Moon also impacts plant growth through geotropism—how plants grow in response to gravity. Roots grow downward in the direction of gravitational pull, and stems grow in the opposite direction (i.e., upwards). This behavior can be easily demonstrated with potted plants. Lay one on its side, and the stem will grow upwards. Or, consider a tulip bulb: if you plant the bulb incorrectly with the pointed end down, it will turn around and send its shoots upward, even though it’s in total darkness.

How to Plant by the Moon’s Phases

To plant by the Moon, follow these guidelines:

  • Plant your annual flowers and fruit and vegetables that bear crops above ground (such as corn, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini) during the waxing of the Moon—from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full. As the moonlight increases night by night, plants are encouraged to grow leaves and stems.
  • Plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground (such as onions, carrots, and potatoes) during the waning of the Moon—from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again. As the moonlight decreases night by night, plants are encouraged to grow roots, tubers, and bulbs.

Dates for Planting by the Moon

See the Almanac Planting Calendar for planting dates based on 1) average last frost dates and 2) the Moon phase. Both are customized to your local postal code (U.S. and Canada)!

The Almanac provides favorable dates for sowing seeds or transplanting in the ground for all popular vegetables and edibles.

You could also calculate planting dates yourself by looking at our Moon Phase Calendar and the guidelines above, though this method won’t take your climate into account.

Astrological “Best Days” - Zodiac Signs for Planting

Some of our readers follow a different approach called the “Best Days.” This is astrological, not astronomical. Let’s explain: Like Gardening by the Moon, astrological Best Days are based on the Moon. However, instead of depending on the Moon’s phase, Best Days consider the Moon’s position in the astrological zodiac. For example, when the Moon is in Taurus, it is regarded as a good time to plant, transplant, or graft. Everyday gardening activities are associated with certain signs, shown here:

ActivityAssociated Signs
Plant, Transplant, or GraftCancer, Scorpio, Pisces, or Taurus
HarvestAries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, or Aquarius
Build/Fix Fences or Garden BedsCapricorn
Control Insect Pests, Plow, or WeedAries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, or Aquarius
PruneAries, Leo, or Sagittarius

To see the dates of upcoming Best Days, check out our Best Days Timetable.

However you plant, check out our library of Growing Guides to learn how to grow all your favorite fruits, vegetables, and flowers!

You can also find a planting table in the annual Old Farmer’s Almanac, which contains the best planting days based on the Moon’s phases.

Do you garden by the Moon? Do you think the technique helps you grow better crops? Let us know in the comments!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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