Copiapoa gigantea var. haseltoniana


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Native exclusively to the Atacama desert in Chile, specifically the coastal plain about 15 km NE inland from Paposo, this species is limited to a narrow strip of land between the ocean and the steep ascending coastal mountain. In its natural habitat, Copiapoa haseltoniana is part of a scattered population amidst succulent vegetation including Heliotropium, Pleocarpus, and Opuntia. The coastal desert climate is characterized by morning fog, providing essential humidity from the sea to sustain these plants. As the day progresses, the fog recedes, allowing the sun to warm the ground. Interestingly, the Brained Lizard (Liolaemus platei) is reported to feed on the flowers of Copiapoa haseltoniana.


Copiapoa gigantea var. haseltoniana is known for its characteristic tendency to form extensive clumps, sometimes reaching heights of up to 1.5 meters. The stems of this variety display a light green hue, occasionally with hints of reddish tones, complemented by an amber yellow woolly crown. They can grow to a diameter of about 25 centimeters and feature lateral branching with approximately 14 to 22 distinct ribs. Typically, the individual stems are oriented in a northward direction. The spines of Copiapoa gigantea var. haseltoniana are a striking golden color and can measure up to 3 centimeters in length. This variety may have anywhere from 0 to 2 central spines and 0 to 8 radial spines.


Given Copiapoa haseltoniana’s origin in an extremely arid climate, it displays surprising adaptability to pot cultivation, although it’s important to exercise caution with watering to avoid overhydration. Adequate air circulation is also essential for its well-being. These cacti are considered summer growers and are generally undemanding in cultivation.
In terms of growth rate, Copiapoa haseltoniana is characterized as slow-growing, appreciated primarily for its aesthetically pleasing form. Given the right conditions, it has the potential to form clumps over time.
As for soil preferences, it thrives in a coarse mineral cactus mix, although overly rich compost can lead to excessive elongation of the stems.
When it comes to repotting, it’s advisable to select pots with effective drainage to ensure the well-being of the plant.
Place it in a well-lit location or partial shade. For optimal results, exposing it to direct sunlight can enhance flowering and impart a deeper, bronzed hue to the stems. In cultivation, this variety may not develop its usual waxy layer, but it will showcase a brownish, bronzed coloration, particularly when subjected to intense light.
While it can withstand brief frosts (down to 0ºC) when kept completely dry, it is advisable to maintain temperatures above 10ºC in winter.
During the active growth season, which spans spring and summer, water the plant regularly. Always ensure the soil has thoroughly dried out before each watering. In winter, it’s best to keep it entirely dry.
Select a well-draining substrate. A standard cactus mix is suitable.
Once a year, apply a specialized fertilizer high in potassium and phosphorus, and low in nitrogen, tailored for succulents.
Repot annually. Under optimal conditions, this species has the potential to produce clusters of offsets.


The propagation can be carried out simply replanting one of the numerous offsets produced by the plant, that will easily put roots if placed in a well-drained substrate. Spring is the best period to do cuttings. Sowing is also possible.


The genus name Copiapoa is derived from the city of Copiapó, situated in the Atacama region of Chile, which serves as a central hub for the growth and development of this genus The name “gigantea” means “giant”, and it’s because of the remarkable size of the wild species.

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