Gardening by the Moon

Learn How to Garden by the Moon's Phases

January 30, 2020
Moon Cherry Flowers
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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 phase for a healthier, more productive garden.

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

According to the Garden Media Group, Gardening by the Moon is “more than just a phase. Connecting with the phases of the Moon taps into our deep desire to be in tune with nature.”  (We approve of the pun.) Whatever happens in the world of trends, we’re all in favor of working with nature’s rhythms. 

What Is Gardening by the Moon?

From what we are reading, many of these trend watchers are confused about the idea of Gardening or Planting by the Moon. There is a difference between traditional Gardening by the Moon and gardening by astrological “Best Days.”

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 takes into account 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.

See more on this in How to Plant by the Moon’s Phases, below.

Harvest Moon

The Moon also impacts plant growth through geotropism—which is 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.

Astrological “Best Days”

Like Gardening by the Moon, astrological Best Days are based on the Moon. However, instead of depending on the Moon’s phase, Best Days take into account the Moon’s position in the astrological zodiac. When the Moon is in Taurus, for example, it is considered a good time to plant, transplant, or graft. Common gardening activities are associated with certain signs, shown here:

Activity Associated Signs
Plant, Transplant, or Graft Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, or Taurus
Harvest Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, or Aquarius
Build/Fix Fences or Garden Beds Capricorn
Control Insect Pests, Plow, or Weed Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, or Aquarius
Prune Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius

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

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) 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.

Finally, don’t forget to check out our library of Growing Guides to learn how to grow all the your favorite fruit, vegetables, and flowers!

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

Source: 

The 2019 Old Farmer's Almanac

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Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Yes, it really works.

I learned this as a child, and then did more research as to "why". Science has not yet caught up with reality, but I know that it works. Having used it for many years, experimenting with planting at the "wrong" (not optimum) phase and sign of the Moon, and comparing. It is easy, fun, and productive. Don't need much more.

Plant by Moon and Signs

I am in my second year of doing so the jury’s still out BUT many people whose opinions I respect suggest this so I am giving it a try. I love being able to appreciate the confluence of all these astronomical events in a rather easy-to-understand way. I study the details, yes, but it is a process which anyone can do.

Plant by Moon and Signs

The Editors's picture

Thanks for your enthusiasm for this age-old tradition, Christine! Let us know how your garden grows this year!

Plant according to signs

My first garden, my mom told me a good time to plant according to the moon. Didn't ck the signs, planted anyhow. Had wonderfully full plants & was expecting a really good crop. Turned out all vines. Learned a lesson. Follow the signs ever since. Thanks mom.

Plant according to signs

The Editors's picture

Thanks, Carol! Happy to hear that this works for you!

Gardening by the moon

Yes, I always try to garden by the moon phases and I am convinced that it makes a difference

Frost dates

With the grand solar minimum in full blast, how can i rely on frost dates? For instance potToes- plant 3 wks prior to last frost date-however in east texas the frost dates are off. Any ideas? TY

Frost Dates

The Editors's picture

Frost dates are never 100% accurate, given that they are the average of several years of dates and will always be an approximation. However, with climate change in the mix, it’s increasingly difficult to nail down a particular date and call it the average last frost. 

So, how do we deal with that? Well, the best method is to simply view the frost dates as an approximation and a rough guideline, while also paying close attention to weather forecasts and, honestly, going with your gut! If you feel it will be warmer sooner than what the frost date would suggest, then plant sooner—but also be prepared to protect your crops in case a surprise frost does hit.

When to transplant above ground crow?

Pease help! I understand to plant root crops etc during the dark moon phase. What puzzles me is whether its better to transplant above ground crops during the waxing moon phase or waning phase? For example if Taurus comes during a dark moon phase, is that a better time to transplant, say collard greens, than on a Taurus moon day during the waxing moon phase? I’d appreciate if that could be cleared up.

Transplanting

The Editors's picture

Our source suggests that transplanting is most favorable during a waxing Moon in the signs of Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces. Doing it in Taurus may be less promising.

When is the best time for cutting trees, bushes or shrubs?

Reason for asking, I don't like to use chemicals to kill trees or shrubs while clearing a fence row or trying to make more pasture available for grazing.

Planting by the moon

My mom & Dad went strictly by the Farmers Almanac, with only 2 years of elementary school they understood all signs,etc and planted according to the phases of the moon. And with the augmentation of animal manure,1 acre produced enough vegetables for our family of 7 and our communal family. Without electricity, everything was preserved by hot water bath canning of vegetables and a root cellar for potatoes, apples, etc. circa: 1930-1955. In 1964 my husband and I moved into a residential community ,each house on 1/2 acre. and a small garden that produced many vegetables. A neighbor whose lot was adjacent to ours ask my advice on when to plant potatoes. I, assuming everyone knew about the " moon planting" told him to plant them in the dark of the moon. A few nights later I noticed a lantern moving every 1-2 minutes in a row. Next day I ask about the light and his response was " I did what you said and planted my potatoes at night."

Planting under full moon

Last year I planted my tomato plants on the day of the full moon. Boy oh boy I ended up with 7-8 ft tall tomato plants... it was amazing

Photocritic

It is a vapor trail, not exhaust. Nice contrast, which is what you strive for in photos.

moon planting

I remember asking my father when I was a youngster if he thought planting by the signs really worked He replied that whether he did or not why go against it ?

Bird bath

Cindy...wanted you to know that I cleaned my bird baths like you suggested last month with a scrub brush, white vinegar and a garden hose. They came out nice and clean and the birds are enjoying. Thank you.

Gardening

I am 65 yrs young and watched my Grandfather raise veggies and flowers by the Almanac
every season
Wouldn't do it anyother way, great times and great results with him
And I carried on the tradition , with the same

Planting

I’ve never been able to grow flowers until I planted by the moon. Now my neighbor is worried mine are gonna outdo hers!

Planting by the Moon

I remember my mother’s first garden as horrific, lol. Lots of hard work and little yields. The next year (and every year thereafter) she bought a Farmers Almanac and planted by the Moon. We also used our grass clippings between and around the plants (not close to the plant base as they will burn the plant) heavily for weed control. Never had need of a Hoe again!! Replacing the grass clippings every mowing was so much easier and faster than weeding! What few weeds that did come up pulled easily. Everyone was always in awe of my Mom’s garden. We canned enough to get through the following years harvest and gave the rest away to anyone who wanted it. The plants just kept on producing!! We took 30gal trash bags full of green beans to Retirement Homes, set out stands in front of the house with free vegetables etc., so nothing went to waste. I am a firm believer in Planting by the Moon!!

Planting By the Moon

I never planted by the moon and have had excellent crops (until last year which was not good at all).). Have I just been lucky for 40 years?

Gardening by the moon

As far as I can remember my ancesters have gardener by the moon and Astrological signs. My ancesters called these "signs". This works for me also. I always check for these "signs" before I garden.