The recent trend in planting is to accommodate as many plants as possible per unit area of land. In the early days of tea industry in India, tea was planted 150cm to 180 cm apart in square pattern. Triangular or diagonal planting was a later development to accommodate more bushes in a given area with the same spacing. Rectangular or hedge planting is a more recent introduction to countries of South East Asia, although this method was practiced in old tea growing countries since long ago.
The spacing and arrangement of plants are dependent on steepness of slope, fertility status of soil, liability of water stress, growth characteristics of planting materials etc. The practical necessity of providing easy access of pluckers to all parts of the field also enters into consideration.
It is considered that plant population higher than 20,000 plants per ha is not beneficial. Usually, 14,000 to 18,000 plants per ha is considered to be desirable plant population for a high early yield and quick ground coverage. To accommodate 20,000 bushes, planting will have to be done in staggered double hedge at 60 cm x 60 cm spacing, leaving a minimum gap of 105 cm between hedges. But such planting is possible only in flat or gently sloping land where water stress is not a problem. The recent recommendation is that the minimum spacing between plants in a row and between rows should be 60 cm and 105 cm respectively. The spacing between rows should not be less than 105, if the spacing is less than that it will hinder plucking and other intercultural operations. However, it should not be more than 120 cm. In N.E. India, planting is done in two different patterns viz., single hedge and double hedge. However, now- a-days, only single hedge planting is preferred. The normal spacing followed is as under:
|Calculated Plant Population per ha|
|105 cm x 60 cm||15,680|
|105 cm x 70 cm||13,605|
|105 cm x 75 cm||12,550|
|120 cm x 60 cm||13,700|
In Japan, double hedge planting at 30 cm x 30 cm spacing between plants in the hedge rows and a wide gap of 180 cm is popular, if the bushes are of China type. There are two types of planting in Japan, single-row hedge planting and zigzag (double-row hedge) planting. In both types, distance between two adjacent hedges is 180 cm. In single-row planting, the distance between plants is 30 to 45 cm. In zigzag planting, the distances between plants and rows in a hedge are 60 to 90 cm and 30to 60 cm, respectively. In Russia ,21,000 to 24,000 China type bushes per ha at a spacing of 33 cm between bushes in a single hedge rows and 125 to 140 cm between hedges has become more popular in recent years.