Planting by the moon phases, is it useful?

Planting by the moon phases, is it useful?

HOW could the moon [300,000+ km away] affect germination and growth of seeds in our gardens as it moves through phases reflecting sunlight?

From ‘dark of the moon’ to ‘new’ moon [1st Quarter], 2nd Quarter, ‘full’, 3rd Quarter, 4th Quarter and back to darkness.

moon phases

The physical mass of the moon is the same whether we can see it at full moon or at new moon.

Gravity effects maybe?

The mass of the moon close to the Earth creates high tides by attracting water to it – like a bulge. The ‘water bulge’ flows around the world as the moon goes round our planet leaving a lower tide on the other side of the Earth, away from the moon.

The ‘pull’ of the moon also works on water in soil, in us and in plants. Seeds and plants grow best with optimal water in and around them. More info on these effects – here.

Add in the sun’s large mass with it’s ‘gravity-pull’ effect, even though it is much further away [150 million km]. When the sun and moon are on opposite sides of Earth at full moon, the 2 ‘pulls’ are opposite. When the sun and moon are on the same side [at new moon] it adds. There is need for more clarity around these effects.


Light effects maybe?

Full moon can light our surroundings or there can be darkness when there is no reflected light from the moon.

At ‘full moon’ the reflected light can be very bright! As the moon reflects the sun’s light, in it’s silvery way, it also affects plants and people – some people have trouble sleeping at full moon.



Plant photosynthesis depends on light so maybe this extra light can drive production too. I am unclear how it can affect seed germination when seeds are sown below the soil surface, in darkness.

What else?

People talk about the ‘energy‘ of full moon. When we can feel an increased ‘zing’ or drive to achieve. When we can work longer hours or more dynamically. When confidence and a ‘can-do’ approach arise more easily. [And, when in excess, we can feel really ‘scattered’, all-over-the-place, or worse.]

During the dark of the moon, energy sinks and often people drag themselves around, lethargic, un-motivated and want to sleep more.

Plants also respond to this energy. One day science may document how it works. Aren’t we and our world interesting?

The effects of this sort of energy on plants was explored in the bio-dynamic agriculture movement over the past 100 years. They have run many research projects comparing planting success of different sowing schedules.

Biodynamic agriculture describes the universe as ‘a whole’ with the same energy under-lying everything with all parts are connected and affecting the rest.

The variations in this energy have similar effects to those of variations in color which either support plant growth or not. For example, ‘Gro-lights’ are needed for flourishing plants indoors as ordinary lights don’t provide the wave-lengths for photosynthesis.

When many of the subtle energy aspects line-up in one way, seeds germinate easily and grow strongly. When they don’t line up, seeds struggle or don’t even begin.

There is still much debate as to how this works. Maybe you might like to run your own experiments to see what works for you?


Calendars for ‘planting by the moon’  

There are many varieties – not all the same! I find this interesting in itself.

So I look for examples from people who have researched carefully rather than simply perpetuating something they have been told. Also, northern hemisphere calendars are different to southern hemisphere ones.

I use a simple version and add in useful information from the calendar of Thomas Zimmer in Australia. His calendar is available here.  A review I saw some years ago found his calendar more accurate than others they compared.


The sowing/planting calendar I use

1st Quarter/week: after the ‘dark of the moon’ into the ‘new moon’ phase

1st Quarter/week: after the ‘dark of the moon’ into the ‘new moon’ phasemoon-13897

  • energy is picking up, growing stronger
  • movement seems to be upwards
  • sow seeds for lush leafy greens


2nd Quarter/week leading up to full moon


  • has even stronger energy of above-ground growth
  • sow seeds for strong growth of fruits, flowers and seeds [think, tomatoes, zucchinis, marrows, sunflower seeds, etc]
  • leafy greens sown now will bolt to seed fast rather than grow lots of leaves. Root vegetables will too [eg carrots, etc]


Full moon, maybe the energy is too strong, so most calendars recommend no planting then.



3rd Quarter/week after the full moon

  • energy is moving downwards to the soil
  • strong root growth [Maria Thun even reflected that this might be a good time to start many seedlings as a strong root system is important for good growth of the rest of the plant]
  • plant for root crops [eg carrots, beetroot, radish, parsnip, etc]


4th Quarter leading up to ‘dark of the moon’: 
As the moon nears its smallest visible ‘dark of the moon’ phase

  • energy fades
  • associated with spindly, weak growth so poor results – take a week off from planting or sowing seeds
  • cultivate if needed instead or
  • prepare ground for a new cycle next month/season


For more information about planting by the moon, Organic Lesson gives their over-view. I like exploring such ideas for myself rather than just trusting and believing. Here’s the link:  Google also shows many others.


An interesting experiment, is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row. Then observe how each row grows and what sort of harvest each gives. This way you can compare for yourself.

You can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!


A tip:
If you keep records and photos of your experiments, trends and effects become visible which may not be clear when we rely on memory over months, or even years. Specially if you do lots of different experiments.

Have fun with experiments.


At the minimum, these planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!


May you and your garden flourish!

10 thoughts on “Planting by the moon phases, is it useful?

  1. Interesting post. Had it in mind to do some research on this myself. I’m afraid I am firmly on the skeptics camp on this. Gut feeling says it’s total hokum. Gravity? Nah. Too weak a force at that distance. Only works on very large bodies of water like oceans or lakes to generate tides. Most bodies of water are not tidal cos too small, so no rational reason to believe that the moon can have an effect on individual water molecules in a plant. My gut feeling as a lapsed scientist tells me that. But I have not yet done any reading, so what do really know. I do know that this moon business is impossible to subject to a trial as you can’t have a valid control, there are too many other variables. Fascinating, thanks.

  2. It’s complex for sure. My head says – can’t see it or measure it so it can’t be real’. I am keeping an open mind and experimenting as I can.
    Maybe ‘big data’ mining by large commercial seedling operations will give some insight as they have a great interest in good outcomes. A nursery here growing natives for re-vegetation doesn’t sow at some phases as they found viability was less than other times. Each bit of info helps a bigger picture.

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