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The Moon has cycled around the Earth at least once since you read my article “Gardening By the Phases of the Moon.” Hopefully, you’ve become familiar with these phases, and have incorporated them into your planting schedule. If so, your seedlings are thriving, and you’re well on your way to becoming a good practitioner of this ancient method. Paying attention to the Moon phases will definitely enhance your gardening experience.

The second step in this technique is to consider which sign of the zodiac the Moon is in. Most people are familiar with the twelve signs, Aries to Pisces. The Sun makes an apparent path through one of these each thirty days. The Moon moves much faster, and makes the 360-degree cycle around the Earth approximately every 28 days. From our perspective, the Moon spends approximately two and a half days in each sign. Once you’ve chosen the correct phase of the Moon for planting a particular kind of seed, you can refine the method further by picking days to plant when the Moon is in a fertile sign.

The Fertile Signs

Each heavenly body has more affinity with certain signs of the zodiac than with others. The Moon is associated with moisture, so she is most comfortable in signs of the water element. Just as a mother can nurture her child best when in familiar territory, the Moon acts on behalf of all growing things most effectively when in a compatible sign of the zodiac. The water signs (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) and earth signs (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) are considered female and fertile. Planting when the Moon is moving through one of these six signs will result in hardier plants, greater yields and larger produce or flowers. If possible, choose to plant on a day when the Moon is in a water sign, although once you begin paying attention, you’ll notice it rains a lot on these days!

Since water nourishes the earth, the earth signs are also very hospitable to lunar energies. They are the best second choice for planting, after the water signs. Virgo can be the last choice of the six signs because it’s the least fertile, even though the virgin is best for corn. Fire and air signs are infertile and should be avoided when planting vegetables. Flowers do well when planted when the Moon is in Taurus or Libra, an air sign, because these are linked to Venus, the planet of beauty and fragrance.

What Sign is the Moon in Today?

It’s easy to watch the night sky and visually determine the phase of the Moon, but you’ll need a calendar, ephemeris or almanac to find which sign of the zodiac the Moon is in. An astrological calendar is easiest because the Moon’s phase and sign are recorded for each day. Many on-line astrology sites, including StarIQ, publish this information (Editor’s note: You can find an ephemeris that lists the placement of the Moon under PlanetIQ on StarIQ.) Almanacs contain Moon phase and sign notation along with good gardening tips. However, some almanacs publish sidereal zodiac notations and gardeners have much better results using the tropical zodiac. You will need to become familiar with the glyphs for each sign to read these sources. Symbol keys are usually provided.

Lunar Gardening Review

The essentials of gardening by the phases of the Moon are matching the specific plant with the proper phase of the Moon, and within that proper phase—which lasts about one week—planting when the Moon is in one of the fertile signs of the zodiac. The quarters of the Moon are as follows:

  • First Quarter Moon: Plant plants that mature with the edible part growing above ground and form seeds on the outside of the plant.
  • Second Quarter Moon: Plant plants that mature with the edible part growing above ground and form seeds on the inside of the plant.
  • Third Quarter Moon: Plant plants with the edible part growing below ground.
  • Fourth Quarter Moon: Not good for planting.

Below are examples of fertile planting dates for the Year 2000 for Zone 5 for a mid-summer planting for an autumn harvest:

  • July 2: First Quarter Moon in Cancer. Plant lettuce, broccoli and cabbage.
  • July 8: First Quarter Moon in Libra. Plant flowers.
  • July 9–11: Second Quarter Moon in Scorpio. Plant a second crop of beans.
  • July 16: Third Quarter Moon in Capricorn. Plant beets, turnips and leeks.

This planting method is less complicated than it first appears. Popping seeds into the ground takes comparatively little time and effort, compared to soil preparation. Therefore, prepare your vegetable and flower beds as usual—all at once on a pleasant sunny day. Weed, till, fertilize, raise those raised beds high, mark your rows, poke stakes and trellises in the ground and admire your work. Then, note on your gardening calendar what days you will sow seeds or transplant seedlings. It’s good to have a plan. Even in inclement Full Moon weather, there will be enough breaks in the clouds for you to dash out and plant a row of onions. Once you gather your bumper harvest, you’ll realize how easy it is to garden with the Moon as your helper.


The Earth is actually circling the Sun. Because we live on the Earth and not the Sun, it’s easier to speak of the Earth-Sun-Moon relationship from our Earthly viewpoint.

Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. The exception is for onions. They do well planted in the third quarter Moon in hot and spicy Sagittarius.

The tropical zodiac is based on the relationship between the Earth and Sun. In the sidereal zodiac, the Sun’s relationship to the fixed stars is primary. People using a tropical zodiac developed the body of knowledge about Moon phase gardening. Western astrologers also use this. If you choose to work with an almanac, cross check the notations with those in a popular astrology magazine to make sure your almanac has tropical notations.



Maggie Anderson has an M.S. degree in marital and family therapy. She writes four weekly columns for AstroNet under the pen name "AstroMaggi" and does private readings for individuals and couples.

Send an email to the author.

For more information about Maggie Anderson, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Maggie Anderson:

  • Of Plants and Planets: Jupiter   4/1/2016
  • Gardening by the Phases of the Moon   4/7/2012
  • Gardening by the Phases of the Moon   8/1/2001
  • Gardening by the Signs of the Moon   7/10/2001
  • Keeping Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions   1/1/2001
  • Of Plants and Planets: Mars   11/11/2000
  • Of Plants and Planets: Saturn   8/5/2000

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