Gardening by the Moon, An Age Old Practice

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.

Moon Cherry Flowers

The basic idea behind Planting by the Moon is that 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).

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.

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. All is customized to your local U.S. zip code or Canadian postal code!

    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 this Moon Phase Calendar and the guidelines above, though this method won’t take your climate into account.

    Finally, don’t forget to check out the 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!


    The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac

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