Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Oldest, Old Friend

Copiapoa cinerea - My oldest plant from seed.

In late summer of 1979 I purchased a pack of 20 seeds of Copiapoa cinerea from Mesa Gardens in New Mexico, USA.  I planted those seeds in November 1979.  I really don't remember how many of the 20 germinated, but I do know what happened to one that did; it became one of my favorite plants.  I gave it the best locations, most sun, and always remembered to water it, something I didn't do for some other plants.  I repotted it regularly, although that wasn't that often because it grew very slowly.  Beginning in the mid 1980's I entered it in every plant show our C&S society held, but it never won an award because it was still quite small.  

After it passed the 10 year old point it flowered every year.  The flowers are small and bright yellow but I didn't grow Copiapoa cinerea for its flowers, I grew it for the attractive body color and just to have a specimen of this wonderful cactus from the Atacama desert of Chile.  In habitat Copiapoa cinerea develops an almost chalk white body color.  I'm not able to provide enough sun for the white body color, but my plant has developed a very pleasing bluish-grey color and I'm satisfied.   Year after year it grew a little, flowered, and remained my favorite cactus plant.  

In 1998 it was 19 years old and began to develop its first offset, another stem growing off the main stem.  I had seen the photos of old Copiapoas in habitat with hundred of offsets, magnificent great clumps that had to be approaching a 100 years old.   It was exciting to watch it begin to develop the form that Copiapoa cinerea plants are suppose to develop.  It now has 10 offsets.  This November 2014 my old Copiapoa cinerea will celebrate its 35th year.  I'm very proud of my oldest plant.  Copiapoa cinerea is not the easiest cactus to grow, especially when you don't have a greenhouse.   I hope you also have a favorite plant.  It's alright to have a favorite, just don't tell the other plants. ^__^    


  1. You must be very proud of such a super plant. I love the colour and your secret about your favourite is safe with me.

  2. Thanks Alain. I am proud. Actually I'm surprised it has survived so long. :) I think my care with watering has helped it survive. It really is hard to pick a favorite plant, but when I think of which plant I'd most hate to lose, this is the one I think of first.