HomeDIY CraftThe Celestial Garden: A Guide to Planting by the Signs

The Celestial Garden: A Guide to Planting by the Signs


Your zodiac signs can do more than rule your destiny. They can also control the outcome of your garden! For centuries, people have been using the moon phases and zodiac signs to govern when to do certain garden activities. Here’s how we can utilize those traditional practices in a modern garden by planting by the signs.

planting by the signs

Even if you don’t believe that the time of year you’re born influences your personality or destiny, chances are you still know your zodiac sign. Who isn’t tempted to check their horoscope when it pops up?

While I can’t fully convince myself that the zodiac plays a part in my day-to-day life, our ancestors have been using astrology to help them make decisions about their gardens. From the best time of year to harvest wheat to when to expect the first frost, gardening by the signs was essential to making informed predictions.

I’m thrilled to share some great insights from Jane Hawley Stevens’ book, The Celestial Garden: Growing Herbs, Vegetables, and Flowers in Sync with the Moon and Zodiac.

Celestial gardening is fascinating because you can take as little or as much from it as you want. You can use it practically to organize your gardening activities and energy or to decide what and when to plant.

Let’s dive into gardening by the signs!

The Celestial Garden Book Cover

Reprinted with permission from The Celestial Garden: Growing Herbs, Vegetables, and Flowers in Sync with the Moon and Zodiac. By Jane Hawley Stevens © 2023. Published by Chelsea Green Publishing.

What is Planting by the Signs?

I’ve talked a little bit about planting by the signs in my post about moon gardens. While I talked about how to plant a garden that glows in the moonlight, I couldn’t help but dive into moon folklore as well.

Planting based on the moon cycle is a very old practice and hasn’t really been proven or disproven. The moon and the sun have long been a way to tell time and keep track of the days.

But you can take moon gardening even further. It’s a fact that the moon controls the tides, but some believe it can also affect the amount of moisture in the ground and, therefore, water intake in plants.

In every monthly cycle the moon completes circling around the earth, the moon will pass through all 12 zodiac signs. Each of the signs will be in effect for a few days, in which case it’s a good idea to do certain gardening activities.

“The premise of celestial gardening is to plant, transplant, and propagate under moist influences—Water and Earth signs—and to cultivate, harvest, and dehydrate for storage under dry influences—Air and Fire signs,” says Jane.

You can use the signs to help guide you when to do what in your garden. “Planning activities by the Moon’s influence helps to organize a schedule: when to envision new beginnings, start new projects, expand, then wrap up old projects,” says Jane.

gardening by the signs
Even if you’re not directly planting or harvesting, you can do many gardening tasks every day.

Practicing Planting by the Signs

There are a few ways to practice gardening by the signs. The moon will go through each of the 12 zodiac signs throughout the year, spending a month in each zodiac. For instance, a Virgo occurs between August 23 and September 22.

This can give you an overarching idea of what the month is like, but you can also apply this day by day.

As Jane explains, “The moon orbits around the Earth once a month, passing in front of all twelve astrological signs during that time, changing its zodiac sign every two and a half to three days.”

This can tell you which days are best for planting, watering, pruning…you name it! If you want to know what zodiac the moon is currently in, I recommend downloading an app such as Moon and Garden.

the 12 zodiac signs for planting
There are 12 zodiac signs. Photo provided by Jane Hawley Stevens.

The Four Elements

Each of the 12 zodiac signs also falls under an element: earth, air, fire, and water.

Earth signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are great for planting. They encourage root growth, which also makes them ideal for transplanting. Fertilize and water during this time.

Air signs Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are considered barren. During this time, you shouldn’t do any planting or transplanting. Instead, you want to use this power as a tool, weeding and pruning. It’s also a great time for harvesting.

Fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius encourage fruit and seed production. Also barren, you can use this time for pest and weed control.

Water signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are great for leaf and above-ground growth. Feel free to plant and transplant during this time and to water deeply and fertilize.

the 12 zodiac signs for planting divided into the four elements: air, water, fire, and earth.
This picture shows the different signs and their elements. Illustration by Jerry Chapa.

The Three Modes

A sign can be described as a cardinal, fixed, or mutable sign. As a cardinal sign, they are a symbol of a fresh beginning. These signs represent the beginning of a new season.

Fixed signs do not bring in any more energy; instead, they sustain what is already happening. They are fixed in the middle of the season.

Mutable signs are at the end of the season, changing from one to another. They’re flexible and can easily shift.

full moon with cloud coverage
The moon’s position plays a big role in planting by the signs.

The 12 Zodiac Signs for Planting

Now that you know a little bit about how much goes into using the signs, here’s what each of the 12 zodiac signs represents and how you can use them to guide your planting and gardening.

Aries

Element: Fire

Sign type: cardinal (ushers in spring)

Activities: cultivating, pest control, weeding, harvesting fruit and root crops

Zodiac Plants: cabbages, peppers, ginger, nettles, St. John’s wort

Aries, the ram, is a barren sign but encourages quick maturity. So, if you need a final push for a plant, you can use this to your advantage.

“Aries is the ultimate initiator, bringing in spring with the energy of Fire, as in the extended day lengths of spring,” says Jane.

nettle plant for planting by the signs for Aries
Nettle is very nutritious and loses its “sting” after it has wilted.

Taurus

Element: Earth

Sign type: fixed (mid-spring)

Activities: planting cut flowers and leafy vegetables, planting root vegetables, transplanting, composting

Zodiac Plants: apples, grapes, peas, potatoes, spinach, feverfew, mallows

Taurus is one of the most fertile months outside of the water signs. It’s a great time for planting root vegetables, as it encourages sturdy and short growth.

Jane says, “Taurus, the bull or cow, represents the middle of spring, with seeds established and getting on their way (depending on your zone). A Taurus Moon fosters material comfort and stability.”

fevefew for planting by the signs for Taurus
Feverfew is a well-known herb for treating headaches.

Gemini

Element: Air

Sign type: mutable (finishes spring)

Activities: cultivating, weeding, mowing, pest control, pruning, harvesting fruit and root crops

Zodiac Plants: carrots, daffodils, lily of the valley, oats, calendula, lavender, dill, marjoram, parsley

Represented as the twins, it’s not recommended to plant or transplant under this sign. Use this time to care for your garden or focus on communications like Jane suggests: “Gemini, an Air sign, is all about communication and gathering information.”

daffodils for planting by the signs for Gemini
Daffodils are always a cheery sight for sore eyes in early spring.

Cancer

Element: Water

Sign type: cardinal (ushers in summer)

Activities: watering, planting seeds, transplanting, irrigation, fertilizing

Zodiac Plants: sap-rich plants, aloe, blue vervain, lemon balm, lily, peppermint, sage

The most fertile of all the signs, cancer (the crab) is favourable for the growth of nearly all plants. “Cancer, as a cardinal Water sign, is the number one choice for starting seeds,” says Jane. “Cancer holds the momentum to create and nourish life.”

aloe is a zodiac plant for Cancer
Aloe is an amazing skincare plant, especially in treating sunburns.

Leo

Element: Fire

Sign type: fixed (mid-summer)

Activities: weeding, pruning, controlling unwanted growth, pest control, harvesting herbs

Zodiac Plants: citrus, corn, palm trees, peppers, celandine, marigold, motherwort, sunflower, hawthorns

Leo, the lion, is one of the least fertile signs. But it’s a powerful time to handle noxious weeds. Jane says, “A Leo Moon brings the enthusiasm of Fire with the sustained energy of a fixed sign. Leos integrated Fire into itself and can use its sunny personality to move a project forward.”

Virgo

Element: Earth

Sign type: mutable (finishes summer)

Activities: potting plants, cleaning and organizing your garden, ornamental gardening

Zodiac Plants: root vegetables, small bright-coloured flowers, eucalyptus, fennel, lavender, myrtle

Virgo, the virgin, is the only earth sign considered barren (she is the virgin, after all). “Virgo brings in beauty and love in its changeable forms,” says Jane. “Use this power to change your surroundings or partnerships to enhance beauty.”

Libra

Element: Air

Sign type: cardinal (ushers in fall)

Activities: flower planting, harvesting medicinal herbs, planting full bulbs

Zodiac Plants: broccoli, eggplant, juniper, flowers, elderberry, lilac, mint, parsley, yarrow

Out of all the earth signs, libra (the scales) is the most fertile and is the best sign for planting flowers.

“A Libra Moon is a great time for throwing parties or planning a gathering in your garden to foster community and partnerships,” says Jane. “Harvest your crops, prepare them into delicious and beautifully displayed dishes to share.”

yarrow is a zodiac plant for libra
Yarrow comes in many colours beyond the traditional white.

Scorpio

Element: Water

Sign type: fixed (mid-fall)

Activities: planting, transplanting, irrigating, harvesting medicinal herbs, canning and preserving

Zodiac Plants: bushy trees, mushrooms, aloe, basil, ginseng, wormwood

You can’t go wrong planting in Scorpio, the scorpion, as it’s the second-best all-purpose planting sign. Just don’t harvest roots during this time!

“Scorpio holds deep emotions and is meticulous with details. Scorpio, as a Water sign, is a good time for planting seeds,” says Jane.

use basil for gardening by the signs for Scorpio
You can grow basil indoors or outside during the warm months.

Sagittarius

Element: Fire

Sign type: mutable (finishes fall)

Activities: planting fruit trees, drying fruits and vegetables, pruning

Zodiac Plants: ash trees, asparagus, beets, oak trees, rhubarb, tomatoes, hyssop, clematis, borage, horsetail, nutmeg, sage

Sagittarius, the archer, is one of the barren signs. During this time, it’s recommended to harvest with long-term storage in mind.

Jane says, “Sagittarius is a Fire sign and opens you to a continually adaptive view of things. This mutable sign’s keynote is observation.”

use clematis for gardening by the signs for Sagittarius
Even after they’re done blooming, clematis are still lovely to look at, thanks to their unique seed heads.

Capricorn

Element: Earth

Sign type: cardinal (ushers in winter)

Activities: plant root crops, fertilize, compost, tree and shrub planting, create paths and fences

Zodiac Plants: beets, parsnips, pines, willows, comfrey, onions, rosemary, rue, thyme

Represented as the goat, Capricorn is a notable planting sight. It’s great for root growth and planting herbs from seed.

“Capricorn is the cardinal Earth sign, a favourable sign for starting seeds, planting root crops (especially during the last quarter), and initiating garden and farm activities or other activities that build and control the material environment,” says Jane.

Aquarius

Element: Air

Sign type: fixed (mid-winter)

Activities: cultivation, weed control, pest control, harvesting

Zodiac Plants: most fruit trees, flowers on all plants, orchids

Aquarius is known as the water bearer and is not to be confused as a water sign. It’s a good time for cultivating and weeding.

“Aquarius, governed by Air, is intellectual but fixed in opinion,” says Jane. “This Moon would be a good time to hoe your garden while expanding your thoughts to craft your position on a subject you need to defend.”

Pisces

Element: Water

Sign type: mutable (finishes winter)

Activities: planting, root growth, watering, fertilizing, making jams and jellies

Zodiac Plants: tulips, leaves of all plants, water plants, basil, lemon balm, water lilies

Pictured as the fish, Pisces is a great time for planting and transplanting, encouraging root growth. “Pisces is a mutable Water sign and governs emotions,” says Jane. “Pisces is also a good planting sign, favouring leafy growth. It is deep and thoughtful, like the fish in the ocean.”

Lemon balm is a zodiac plant for Pisces
Lemon balm has antiviral properties, making it a go-to for treating cold sores.

And that covers the basics about planting by the signs! If you want to learn more about using the moon and zodiac signs as guidance for your garden, I highly recommend you check out Jane’s book, The Celestial Garden.

Quotes from Jane Hawley Steven’s new book The Celestial Garden (Chelsea Green Publishing December 2023) were printed with permission from the publisher.

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