What is the sapling of a plant?

The shoot of a plant is a new shoot

There are many plants that produce suckers. There are those who suggest that these should be removed so that competition is not created between them and the »mother plant», although we would only recommend this if they were in pots, since in a garden it is more difficult to happen if they have the enough space.

But What exactly is the sapling of a plant? What are their characteristics?

What is the definition of sapling?

The sapling of a plant has several meanings:


Haworthia sprout suckersHaworthia shoots

Image – Wikimedia / Earth100

The offspring of a plant is, in colloquial language, the son or offspring of the same. It can also be said that it is a bud or a bud. When they sprout, their parts are very tender, but they usually grow fast. Some species, specifically those that are herbaceous or sub-shrubby, these children reach the size of the mother in a matter of a few weeks, or a few months if they are in the ground.

On the contrary, if they are in pots, the speed of growth will be determined, not only by the genetics of said plant, but also, and above all, by the space available.


In Spain, when a plant was lost or that was at rest and takes out new shoots, it is said that it is sprouting. Thus, we no longer necessarily speak of “children”, but may be new branches. Any green shoot that it produces, after having been without or almost without leaves for a while, is called a sapling.

In general, they are usually lively or perennial, that is, plants that live more than two years, with herbaceous or woody stems. For example, suppose we have a rose bush that had a significant mealybug infestation, to such an extent that we had to give it quite a drastic pruning. Well, time passes and one day we see that it grows sprouts. These could be said to be suckers.

Mowing or cutting

Another meaning of sapling related to plants and gardening is the one that gives the result to the cuts of an artificial meadowthat is to say, made and worked by the human being. It is common, especially in rural towns, that those who have farm animals, such as sheep, take them to where they have these meadows to feed them. When it is mowed or cut, the grasses sprout shoots.

These herbs are not allowed to flower, so they remain green and tender, ideal for animals to consume without problem. In addition, thanks to them they can secrete more milk, something that both the offspring and the farmers find beneficial.

Plants that take suckers

As we have seen, perennial plants are the ones that take up suckers. But let’s know what some of them are:

American agave

The agave americana takes out suckersThe agave americana puts out shoots

Image – Wikimedia / Marc Ryckaert

The American agaveknown as yellow agave, maguey or pita, It is a species native to Mexico that reaches a height of 1 to 2 meters. The leaves are lanceolate, bluish-white, gray-white, green or variegated depending on the variety or cultivar. Once in its life, it produces a flower stalk that is twice the size of the plant, and after that it dies, leaving the suckers.

It is an invasive species in Spain, as it reduces native biodiversity.

Crassula ovata

Crassula ovata shoots budsCrassula ovata sac buds

Image – Flickr / Giacomo // Crasula ovata f monosa cv Gollum

The Crassula ovata it is an evergreen subshrub plant native to South Africa. It can reach a height of 1 meter maximum. It develops a more or less branched trunk and fleshy green leaves. In spring it blooms, producing small white flowers.

It is easy to care for, since it grows both in the sun and in semi-shade, and it has to be watered a few times, only when the soil is dry. Likewise, it is important to say that it resists both cold and mild frosts, down to -2ºC.

threatened slopes

Clivia shoots suckers in springThe clivia puts out shoots in spring

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Raulbot

The threatened slopesknown as clivia, is a rhizomatous plant native to South Africa. It develops tapered, dark green leaves with a height of up to 50 centimeters. Very pretty orange flowers sprout in spring, and it also sprouts suckers.

It has to be cultivated in the shade, as the sun would burn its leaves. It resists frost, but only down to -5ºC (and even so, it is better not to drop below -2ºC since otherwise it would suffer damage).

Phoenix reclines

The Phoenix reclinata is a multi-trunked palm treeThe Phoenix reclinata is a multi-trunked palm.

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Haplochromis

The Phoenix reclinesknown as the Senegal palm tree, is a species of palm native to Africa, Madagascar and Arabia. From an early age it takes out suckers, which They can grow up to 15 meters tall with a trunk thickness of up to 30 centimeters. Its leaves are pinnate, between 2 and 5 meters long.

Despite its dimensions, it is grown in any type of garden, small or large, and always in the sun. It does not need much space, but of course if necessary you can remove the suckers when they are tender. Resists up to -7ºC.

Forever living

Sempervivum are succulents that take off suckers

The sempervivum are succulents that put out shoots

The Sempervivum are succulent plants that grow forming rosettes of fleshy leaves, and almost triangular, about 5 centimeters high. The genus is made up of around thirty species, all of them originating from the subtropical to temperate regions of Europe. The most popular are Everliving arachnoid (known as spider plant) and the Everlasting roofs.

They are widely grown plants in pots and planters, placed in the shade. You can give them the sun if it is the first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, but it is preferable that it is protected from the sun’s rays. They support frosts down to -12ºC.

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What is the sapling of a plant?

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