To grow, thrive, look and perform their best, every plant needs its space. From the smallest flower or herb to giant sequoia trees, proper plant spacing is a vital issue. Left to nature, plants will choke each other out, competing for sunlight, moisture, and nutrients. The survivors do not always emerge as healthy winners. Without proper plant spacing, they carry the battle scars of the competition for sunlight, water, and nutrients.
Don’t forget your house plants. They need their space, too. If you are growing more than one plant in a container, make sure the container is big enough to afford proper space between the plants.
The ideal space requirements vary from plant to plant. Seed packets will almost always have proper spacing recommendations on the back of the seed packet. Most store-bought plants will include a tag with planting instructions. Look for, and follow, the proper spacing recommendations. Your plants will thank you.
The most common plant spacing concern is overcrowding. This results in:
The plants are visibly weakened, fighting neighbor plants for sun, food, and nutrients.
Tall, thin, spindly plants. They can be unsightly and are susceptible to bending and breaking in the wind.
Smaller and fewer flower, vegetable, and fruit production. In more serious cases, the stressed plant will not produce at all.
Increased likelihood of plant disease. Sunlight cannot reach the inner leaves, and there is a lack of air circulation. These are two conditions where plant disease thrives.
More work for you, as you spend time thinning plants.
Spacing plants too far apart can have an unfavorable impact on some plants, too.
Many plants need each other for pollination. Corn often comes to mind here. If spaced too far apart, the ears will not properly form
If Arborvitaes or other plants are grown as hedgerows are planted too far apart, undesired gaps can result.
Some plants need to grow close together to provide support to each other as they grow. Without a little crowding, the wind can bend and break them.
Some flowers just look better when grown together in mass plantings or groups, and look out of place if grown singly.