Does Planting by The Moon Work? The Facts!


Picture of plant with a moon in background

Planting by the moon. It may sound like a psychedelic experience or something that would be a part of a sci-fi movie. But the proponents of gardening, as per the lunar calendar, say it is neither. According to them, it was creating a connection with nature to harness the best gardening outcome. But what is planting by the moon, and how does it work?

Some gardening folklore suggests that planting crops according to the moon’s phases will give you a better harvest, but there is little scientific evidence to back this up. Also, the increasing moonlight can balance leaf and root growth.

By following these guidelines, you may maximize your gardening success. Here are a few things that you should know about if you are considering planting by the moon:

What is Lunar Planting?

Ever since the evolution of humankind, the moon has had a tremendous influence on us and our planet. And while we know that human beings and animals moon influences human beings’ and animals’ circadian rhythm seen confirmed that plants also have a cycle tied to the lunar cycles.

Thus, the celestial phenomenon of the moon revolving around the earth has several impacts on all living things. And since plant germination is majorly affected by water and light, the moon has a lot of influence on your garden. Thus, planting with the flow of this phenomenon can prove to be highly beneficial.

And while the sun also has a lot of influence, especially in plants, the moon’s pull is stronger than the sun. Despite the sun being more extensive, the moon is much closer to the earth. And the most potent effect is experienced when the sun and the moon pull from the opposite sides of the planet. This is during the complete moon phase. Also, it creates high tides when both the moon and the sun are on the same side during the new moon.

So, seeds may absorb the most water during these durations. This leads to the seeds swelling up, which improves germination and helps the plants establish themselves better.

Science Behind Lunar Planting

The four phases usually categorize the lunar cycle in a month, or more precisely, every 29 ½ days – new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter. However, when it comes to lunar planting, gardeners take into account only two periods of the lunar cycle – the time between the full moon and the new moon, known as the waning of the moon, and the time between the new moon and the full moon, known as the waxing of the moon. The moon cycle impacts plant growth because of the moon’s gravitational pull that causes tides to rise and fall and, in turn, affects soil moisture. So, while some plants should be planted during the waning of the moon, some should be planted during the waxing of the moon. 

For instance, seeds such as lettuce, when exposed to light, may germinate better. Thus, planting them during the full moon could enhance their germination process and help you yield a healthy harvest.

Some lunar experts even recommend picking fruits during the full moon if they are sold in the market as they will weigh more. And on the other hand, the fruits should be harvested during the new moon if they are meant for personal consumption as they will be stored better.

Gardening Practices Based on Lunar Cycles

As mentioned, it is recommended that certain plants should be planted at a certain point during the lunar cycle. This is majorly dependent on whether the crop is grown above the ground or below the ground. This is because the moon influences the growth of the plant through geotropism. Geotropism is how plant growth responds to gravity. And since roots grow in a different direction than stems, the gravitational pull impacts them differently.

Aboveground Crops

Picture of cabbage on the ground

It is suggested that all the crops that grow above the ground, especially annuals, should be planted during the waxing period of the moon. And the best time to sow or transplant leafy annuals like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, and celery is during the new moon. During the waxing period of the moon, the moonlight increases each night which encourages the growth of leaves and stems. On the other hand, the first quarter is an excellent phase for fruits and crops with external seeds.

Below-Ground (Root) Crops

Picture of carrots

It is said that root crops, especially biennial and perennial, grow well while the moon is waning. One should consider planting root crops such as potatoes, turnips, onions, carrots, and beets when the moon is just past full. This is when the moonlight decreases each night, promoting roots, tubers, and bulbs in plants. However, planting during the last quarter phase should be avoided. This time can be used to enhance the soil quality, weeding, composting, and mulching.

Association with Zodiac Signs

Besides the moon’s phases, you need to know a few more things to prepare a complete lunar gardening calendar. According to believers, each zodiac sign is related to particular growing conditions. The moon passes through all the 12 zodiac signs during its month-long journey around the earth.

For the best results, one should consider combining the correct moon phase and the zodiac sign, which can help you help you achieve optimum results for your garden.

Cancer, Pisces, Taurus, Scorpio, and Capricorn are water and earth signs and offer fertile conditions. This would be an excellent time to plant or transplant aboveground crops.  On the other hand, Gemini, Aquarius, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are air, and fire signs said to be barren. Planting So, one should probably focus on weeding and pruning during this time.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. While Virgo is an earth sign, it is barren, and Libra, the air sign, is comparatively fertile. Talking of exceptions, Sunday is one day of the week when planting should be avoided, no matter what sign it is under.

Similarly, pruning fruit trees is recommended during a fire sign, while harvesting in a fourth-quarter fire sign would help you preserve fruits and vegetables and allow better storage.

There are some almanacs related to lunar gardening that can help you maximize your gardening success. Moreover, some signs are believed to benefit a specific type of plant. For instance, Libra is the sign that favors corn, and Taurus is great for leafy greens.

Gardening Lunar Calendar 

One should track different moon phases to get a better idea of gardening based on the lunar cycle. And other than just the lunar phases, it is also important to note the amount of time the moon spends in the sky. Let us now have a closer look at each of the lunar phases to help you plan your garden activities better:

New Moon – 1st Quarter

picture of half moon

During the first quarter, the moon is at its least influence. From this point, the pull starts to increase as it travels towards the second quarter (full moon). Based on traditional practices, gardeners prefer planting crops at the full moon as germinating seems to take place quicker during this time. However, gardeners of this age tend to grow during the first quarter.

This is because, during the waxing period of the moon, the process of germination and plant growth is encouraged. This is an excellent time to plant fruits that bear external seeds.

Full Moon – 2nd Quarter

picture of full moon

During the second quarter or the full moon, gardeners usually plant various fruits that bear internal seeds. Some great options would be apples or oranges. And if you wish to grow vegetables, you can consider peas and beans. This is said to be the peak planting period for various moon growers.

But on the other hand, some moon gardeners also prefer to harvest at the full moon, while some would like to wait for the end of the lunar cycle. This decision majorly depends on the type of crop planted and the effect that harvesting can have on it. For instance, picking them at the full moon would be a good idea for someone wanting juicy tomatoes.

However, it is better to wait until the fourth quarter for someone who wants to harvest beans for drying.

Full Moon – 3rd Quarter

Picture of half moon

This is the time when the moon wanes from full and has a diminishing influence. According to moon gardeners, during this time, plants are typically focused on the development of roots. So, it would be great if one considers planting crops that depend on their root growth before shooting foliage. Some options that to choose from are onions, potatoes, carrots, or beets.

Other than this, this is an excellent time if you wish to transplant or repot certain crops. One can also consider perennials or biennials to establish themselves well if their root growth is strong.

New Moon- 4th Quarter

Picture of full moon

Completing the lunar cycle, the moon wanes back to new. During this time, many believe that plants are least active. Thus, this can be well termed as their resting period. However, this does not mean that the gardener gets to unwind. This is said to be an excellent time for harvesting the crops. If not harvesting, other tasks such as mowing the lawn or pruning can be done during this time.

Conclusion on does planting by the moon work

You do not have to plant your seeds on the exact day of the new moon or full moon. You can grow within a range of days around the given date and still may see benefits.

Planting by the moon or the zodiac signs can be fascinating. And since misconceptions are surrounding this notion, it is essential to get proper knowledge and start with your lunar gardening pursuits. We hope that this information will give you a brief idea and stir up curiosity to try out gardening based on lunar cycles and witness the benefits yourself.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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