Copiapoa cinerascens var. grandiflora
Copiapoa montana subs. grandiflora
Copiapoa grandiflora is native to Chile, in particular in an area between Pan de Azucar to Cifuncho. Its habitat is the Atacama desert, at low altitudes (50 to 850 meters above the sea level). It can be found growing on valleys and slopes. Its climate is subtropical, with medium temperatures (between 11 and 19 ºC).
Copiapoa grandiflora is a small cacti, very appreciated in the succulent market for its big, gorgeous flowers. Its stem are usually globose or slightly cylindical, up to 12 centimeters tall and to 10 across, usually clumping in large, dense cushions up to 60 centimeters in diameter. When cultivated in small pots, however, it might remain solitary. Its roots are swollen, to store water and nutrients against the difficult, dry conditions of the Atacama desert. The colour of its stem ranges from olive to pale green and might show a grey, waxy superficial layer, that is an evolutionary device to minimize evapotranspiration (water loss) through the surface: this is another protection against drought. In cultivated plants, it is usually absent, as cultivation conditions are further less severe than its wild habitat. Its stem, like in almost all cacti, is divided into ribs. In the case of C. grandiflora, ribs are around 12-15 in number, notched and with rounded tubercles. On each tubercle there is an areole. Areola are the typical bud of Cactaceae family, that earn cacti the capacity to form spines. In the case of C. grandiflora, areola are oval, big, about 4 millimeters in length and 10 in diameter, woolly and white, later turning grey and eventually glabrous. Spines are divided into radial ones, pointing in all direction radially, and central ones, pointing outwards. Radial spines are up to 10 in number, slender, 1 to 3 centimeters long and brown to black at the beginning and greyish-white when they grow old. Central spines have the same colour of the radial ones, but are longer than them (up to 5 centiemters). During the spring, blossoming occurs: yellow flowers, up to 6 centimeters in diameter, are as wide as the stem or slightly less: that’s the reason of the species name, “grandiflora”, that means “equipped with big flowers”. The bright yellow colour of the petals might be tinged in reddish shades on the outer part.
Copiapoa grandiflora is not difficult to grow, though it’s definitely a slow-grower. Here below are our cultivation tips:
Put it in a bright spot, but not exposed to sunlight all the time: the hottest hours of the day should be avoided. Best options are early morning and late afternoon sunlight.
In cultivation conditions, we advise to keep it at minimum temperatures of 10ºC, as it doesn’t stand frosts: its minimum tolerated temperature . You might put it Duriing the cold season, keep its substrate completely dry and avoid atmospheric humidity: try to keep it in airy spots.
Water weekly during the Summer, always waiting that for the soil to dry up completely before each irrigation. In Spring and Autumn, water unfrequently but abundantly, whenever the substrate is copletely dry. In Winter, instead, any irrigation should be avoided.
Choose a well-drained soil, with an abundant mineral part.
Fertilize once a year during the growth season, with a specific product for cacti and succulents (high in Potassium and Phosphorus and poor in Nitrogen), diluting it in water at half the doses recommended on the label.
Repotting is rarely necessary as it stays very small. Choose deep pots to host it big root system.
The propagation of Copiapoa grandiflora is usually carried out through seeds or cuttings. It’s also frequent to find plants grafted on more tough individuals, to enhance growth speed. Cuttings can instead be taken off the shoot in Spring and Summer, to be planted in cactus potting mix after the wound has dried up (a callous should form). Keep the substrate with the planted cuttings moist and at temperatures above 20ºC until they put roots. Seeds, instead, germinate in around a week at 20 to 27ºC in Spring. Put a glass or plastic sheet above the pot and remove it gradually after the plantlets start to germinate.
The name of the genus 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. The species name “grandiflora”, instead, refers to its big, gorgeous flowers, as wide as the stem or slightly less, that makes this cacti very appreciated by succulent lovers.
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