Plant Spacing and Crop Placement

by Deanna Williams

Spacing your flowers can get overwhelming. You have your list of flowers you want to grow, but now what? If you don’t have enough space to give each variety its own row you have to figure out which varieties can be grown together. When I’m planning, I look at three main factors when it comes to crop placement:

  1. What is the plant type? Keep perennials together and make sure that you’re not having to work over rows of seedlings when planting hardy annuals and tender annuals side by side.
  2. What spacing does each variety need? I keep most of my spacing to 6-inch, 9-inch, 12-inch, or 18-inch. This helps me save and re-use landscape fabric.
  3. Does the variety need any stability or support? The three main support structures I use are trellises for vines, corrals for bigger flowers that can get top heavy and horizontal netting to help keep delicate stems upright.

Take your list of flowers you plan to grow and make notes for these three categories. This will help you group your varieties together and give you an easier start.

Plant Types

We went over plant types when we were making our wish list. If you haven’t already, make a mark next to each line indicating the plant type:

A = Tender Annual
H = Hardy Annual
P = Perennial (I use this for woodies and bulbs as well)
B = Biennial
T = Tubers
C = Corms
V= Vine

Plant Spacing

Spacing can make or break how productive your growing area is. If your plants are too close together they won’t be as healthy and this could stunt stem length or the number of blooms you get. On the other hand, if your plants are too far apart this can lead to more weed pressure and dryer soil. My rule of thumb is to stick to six, nine, twelve or eighteen inch spacing. When I am looking at the growing instructions for a flower, I will take the closer spacing. For example, when I look at Zinnias at Johnny’s, the recommended spacing is 9″-12″, so I will space them every nine inches (the majority of annuals will thrive with nine inch spacing)

Go through your list and mark down the spacing you plan to use for each variety. If you don’t know the spacing for the flowers you can lookup the flower at any seed retailer and look at the growing details to find notes on spacing. Johnny’s and Floret both have so many different varieties, they’d be a great place to find this information.

NOTE: to maximize your rows, plant your seedlings in a grid as opposed to side-by-side rows.

Stability & Support

When you’re looking up plant spacing, you’ll be able to find details in the description or growing information on whether or not the crop needs support. If you’re unsure if a plant needs any extra support, follow the growing instructions.

Then, throughout the growing season, take pictures and keep notes. For example, last year I planted zinnias without any support. Most of the queen lime, Oklahoma and zinderella varieties handles this well, but the Benary Giant varieties got a little top heavy and drooped. So I’ll grow my larger variety zinnias with stability from now on.

Try to take as many notes as you can and save them for the future. Especially your flower lists! It’s great to have an ongoing flower list with plant details so you can use it each winter without needing to look up all of the details again.


Crop Placement

There are a couple different ways to approach crop placement. The simplest is to pencil in your varieties to your sketched rows and farm map on graph paper. If you love excel, like I do, you can create a sheet with a graph in excel, outline your rows, and start playing around with placement. I love having everything in a spreadsheet so I have it for future reference, but it’s honestly so much easier for me to get rows organized on paper.

Group your flowers together by spacing and then subgroup by stability. It’s going to be easier to have all of your flowers that need netting in the same row(s) as opposed to scattered throughout your growing area.

Play with this little bit until you feel comfortable with where everything is. Sometimes it helps to set it down and come back to it after a day or two. Just remember that the more thought you put into it now, the better off you’ll be in the spring and summer!

If you’re really wanting to maximize your growing space, Floret Flowers has a wonderful guide on growing in succession and I highly recommend you read through it!

Read Succession Planting; How to Keep the Harvest Going All Season Long

About Deanna Williams

Deanna grew up in Priest Lake, Idaho where most of her childhood was spent outdoors in the mountains or on the lake. She moved to Newport, Washington and that same year started growing North Star Farm + Flower. Her love of the outdoors is what drove her to farming flowers and it wasn't long before she fell in love with the work and being a steward of the land.

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