We are all aware of the common factors that determine the success of our plants, being lighting, watering, fertilisers and environment. But did you know that there is another interesting component that plays a considerable part in successfully growing seeds and plants that most of us wouldn’t even consider.
Unknown to most people and even some gardeners, the lunar or “moon” phases can affect the efficiency of the harvest we reap. Think about it, if the moon can influence the waters and tides of our planet, its only logical that it could influence the growth and success of our plants as well. Understanding lunar planting actually stems from the ancient world and was practiced in unison along with determining time and the seasons. Although widely seen as just folklore and superstition, there is evidence that our agricultural pioneers where actually onto something.
The basic rules and principles are based on observing the moon and the gravitational forces between the Sun, the Moon and Earth. Because at certain points the Moon is closer to Earth, its effects are more noticeable. The orbital or “synodic” period of the Moon lasting from one New Moon to the next, occurs over 29 days and each lunar month the Moon passes through four phases, each lasting 6-8 days;
- New Moon
- First Quarter
- Full Moon
- Last Quarter.
The first thing you need to determine is if you’re in a Waxing Moon (New Moon & First Quarter) or a Wanning Moon.(Full Moon and Last Quarter).
During the New Moon and First Quarter phases, the Moon is waxing or increasing in light. In these two phases, sap flow increases in above ground parts of plants, and these are the most suitable phases for sowing and transplanting annuals (e.g. Petunia’s) and biennial (plants that only live for two years e.g. Parsley).
It’s also recommended that pruning is done in the First Quarter phase to produce new growth quickly. When pruned while sap flow is high, sap is quickly diverted to the lateral shoots. When sap flow is low, regrowth is slower and dieback is more likely to occur in some plants. The same principle applies to lawns. If you want to encourage fast regrowth, mow during the waxing phases. First Quarter phase is also good for grafting and budding because these require a high sap flow for successful results.
During the Full Moon and Last Quarter phases the Moon wanes or decreases in light and sap flow in plants is more concentrated in the root area. As sap flow gradually slows during these two phases, its best for sowing and planting because germination is lower, and regrowth slower, during Last Quarter phase. Full Moon phase is best for the sowing and planting of both root crops and perennials (plants that live longer than two years). The reason that these plants are planted (or sown) in the root vegetable phase is that perennials have a different type of root system to leafy and flowering annuals.
Roots of perennial plants have, like root vegetables and garlic, the ability to store carbohydrates and nutrients through periods of dormancy, and this type of root system is important for the longevity of perennials. Because the Full Moon phase favours root growth, this is also an excellent phase for taking cuttings, or for aerial layering, because root growth must form to support new foliage growth. This is also the best phase for dividing plants for the same reason.
The last quarter phase, no sowing or planting during this phase. This is a good phase for attending to your soil; weeding, applying mulch, making compost, preparing manure teas, applying solid fertilisers and digging or ploughing, if necessary Prune to restrain growth, and mow lawns to slow growth during this phase.
These are some of the most essential principles that you need to fully understand regarding the application of lunar planting techniques to your variety of fruits, vegetables and even flowering plants like daylilies.