Copiapoa esmeraldana F.Ritter
Copiapoa humilis var. esmeraldana, Copiapoa grandiflora subsp. ritteri
Copiapoa esmeraldana, also known as Copiapoa humilis var. esmeraldana, is a low-growing cactus with green globular stems with the tip covered with white wool, particularly at flowering time. It grows solitary or clumping at the base. Stems are up to 2.8 inches (8 cm) in diameter and have 13 to 16 strongly tuberculate ribs. Tubercles are up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) tall. Areoles are apical, slightly dislocated in the lower part of the tubercle, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) apart, covered with short, whitish wool when young, later hairless. Spines are straight, brownish to ash-grey, and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) long. Young plants only have thin radial spines, while the central spines appear as the plants mature. Flowers are yellow, bell-shaped, and up to 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) long.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Despite the extreme and specific conditions in the habitat, Copiapoas as a whole are surprisingly easy to grow in cultivation. From seed sewing to the care of mature plants, this genus is very forgiving. While staying manageable in size, Copiapoa in cultivation will flower from a young age and reliably so each following year.
These cacti want exposure to half or full sun. If they are in full sun, they must be in a position with good air circulation to prevent sunburn.
Watering should be extremely poor. The soil must dry out completely between waterings. They should, however, be suspended during mid-summer. In this period, instead of watering, it will be appropriate to spray the plant early in the morning, before the temperature warms up, thus simulating the conditions they would have in their natural environment.
The soil should be formed from a mineral substrate (for example, granite crumbled) mixed with very little universal soil.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Copiapoa.
This species is native to the Esmeralda region of Chile.
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