The space agency says it will have an "extraordinarily important role" in allowing further exploration destinations such as Mars.
The Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team will try to grow basil, sunflowers, and turnips in specially made aluminium containers.
They'll also send identical ones to schools where students can compare them - effectively crowd-sourcing the control data.
In another cost-reducing measure, the seeds and their habitats will be sent up in the winner of Google's Lunar X Prize.
This is the "largest international incentive based prize of all time" and will award $40 million (£24.7 million) to the first private company to land "safely on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters above, below, or on the Lunar surface, and send back two "Mooncasts" to Earth".
Dr. Robert Bowman, the project's biologist, said: "Simply knowing how plants deal with stress on the moon can really tell us a lot about how they deal with stress right here on Earth.
"The first picture of a plant growing on another world--that picture will live forever."