Copiapoa carrizalensis var. gigantea
Copiapoa cinerea var. dealbata
Copiapoa cinerea subsp. dealbata
Copiapoa dealbata var. carrizalensis
Copiapoa dealbata f. gigantea
Copiapoa dealbata is native to Chile North where the plant grows on plains and on slopes facing north and can spread up to 500 m of altitude. The succulent occurs in very dry areas and is used to withstand long period of drought taking the water from the coastal fog called camanchaca.
Copiapoa dealbata is a very rare cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect habit, forms clumps and the mounds can reach up to 1 m in height and 2 m in diameter. The stem is globose to cylindrical, up to 16 cm tall, greyish green in color, arranged in 21-33 ribs and is covered with greyish-white waxy film. The areoles are large, whitish-grey, oval, woolly and bear the spines. The plant bears a single spine per areola; the spine is long, pointed, whitish-grey, needle-like, straight. Blooming occurs during the summer but only in mature individual that reach 10 years and the blossoms are borne near the apex of the stem. The flowers are funnel-shaped, small, pale yellow and form yellowish white to reddish green, rounded fruits.
This is a slow growing plant, and is quite difficult to cultivate. For this succulent the best position is direct sunlight in airy location, so you can place it outdoors but be careful in the hottest days. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The succulent can tolerate temperatures to 45° C, but not even short periods of frost, and temperatures below 6° C will damage or kill the plant. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Plants can be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees to avoid sudden changes in temperature. The soil should be a well-draining and porous soil, so you can use a standard cactus soil or a mix of fertile soil and sand. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well. Watering can be done during the spring and autumn waiting every time the soil is completely dried; during the summer it will be advisable to spray the plant early in the morning, before the temperature warms up, thus simulating the conditions that they would have in their natural environment. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once a year. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation is usually done by seed or by grafting. Propagation by seed it is not recommended for this species because it is very slow. To fast the propagation, you can try to immerse the seeds in water for 1 day. Sow the seeds in a sandy loam and keep them in warm, humid conditions. By grafting make the cut as close to the growing tip as possible, then chose a stock with a diameter similar to that of the scion. After the cut, wash away the latex until it no longer remains. Bring the scion closer to the stock and held together with elastic bands. The plants should be left in an airy and shady place for 7-10 days before the bands are removed.
The name comes from the city of Copiapó, located in the Chilean region of Atacama where this genre has grown at the center of the development area.
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