Moon planting guide: Everything you need to know

by | Sep 13, 2017 | In the Garden

It makes perfect sense once you understand the science behind it. We can easily comprehend the gravitational forces between the sun, moon & earth and the effect they have on the ocean tides well the same applies to plants. Over the years farmers have observed the same forces and their effects on all aspects of farming and successfully applied moon planting. More recently, scientists have also confirmed the variations in sap flow, biological functions in plants, and subtle changes in the earth’s electromagnetic fields, corresponding to the moon’s gravitational pull.


Moon planting guide

I went straight to the expert, Lyn Bagnall, author of Easy Organic Gardening & Moon Planting.

Organic gardening book and moon planting guide

Traditional moon planting

Moon planting is not a new concept that’s for sure, it’s been used by farmers as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. The principles of moon planting centre around the ‘synodic’ period of the moon from one new moon to the next. This goes for a period of 29.5 days on average.

Each lunar month the moon passed through four phases.

  1. New moon
  2. First quarter
  3. Full moon
  4. Last quarter

Phases of Earth's Moon

The number of days in between each phase can vary, so make sure you follow a guide.

NOTE: Lyn advises to avoid sowing, planting, or taking cuttings from 12 hours before to 12 hours after the exact change of the moon phase.


The waxing moon

During the new moon & first quarter phases, the moon is increasing in light. This is called a waxing moon. This is the best time for sowing and transplanting annuals as well as biannuals. During this time sap flow increases in above-ground plants, so when you prune or cut back your plants, sap is diverted to the lateral shoots. This concept applies to mow the lawn as well.

What you can sow, transplant & do during a waxing moon?

New moon phase
  • Leafy annuals (we eat the leaf of the stem)
  • Flowering Annuals
  • Annual Grasses
  • Green Manures
  • Apply liquid fertiliser
  • Mow lawns to encourage new growth
  • 2nd best phase to sow or transplant fruiting annuals
First quarter phase
  • Fruiting annuals (we eat the fruit or seed-bearing part)
  • Flowering annuals & grains
  • Annual Grasses
  • Green Manures
  • Apply liquid fertiliser
  • Mow lawns to encourage new growth
  • Shrubs & trees can be pruned
  • Carry out grafting & budding
  • 2nd best phase to sow or transplant leafy annuals



The waning moon

The right-hand side of our Earth’s moon cycle is called the waning moon. This occurs during the full moon & last quarter phase and is when the moon’s light is decreasing (waning). At this time a plant’s sap flow gradually slows down and now is a good time to harvest your crops & seeds. Lyn also mentioned you are less likely to encounter rot if harvesting for storage during a waning moon.

During the full moon, it’s a great time to sow and plant root crops & perennials (living more than 2 years). The reason for this is that both root crops & perennials have a different type of root system. They have the ability to store carbohydrates and nutrients when they become dormant which is a factor as to why perennials live for 2 years or more.

During a full moon phase root growth is important as it must support new foliage growth, so now is a great time to take cuttings & divide plants. It’s also a good time to prune dormant plants, and during the last quarter, you can focus on cutting back shrubs & vines when the growth is slowed even more.

The last quarter phase is best for weeding and digging, as germination tends to be lower during this phase and weed seeds are less likely to germinate when the soil is disturbed.

What you can sow, transplant & do during a waning moon?

Full moon phase
  • You can sow and plant root crops
  • Sow and plant fruiting & decorative perennials, including fruit trees
  • It’s also time to sow lawn & lay turf
  • Harvest your crops for storage
  • Take cuttings, divide plants & prune dormant plants
  • Apply soil fertilisers
  • Mow lawns to slow growth
Last quarter phase
  • Weeding & mulching
  • Making compost, and preparing manure teas
  • Applying soil fertiliser
  • Digging & ploughing
  • Prune to restrain growth
  • Mow lawns to slow growth


Moon planting is beneficial in connecting the growth in your garden to the natural forces of the earth. It takes gardening to an exciting new level through a process that has been used for a significant part of our history.

Looking to start from seed. Read our guide to seed raising.