Copiapoa species are globose or globose-cylindrical very slow growing plants. There they are found primarily in the Atacama desert where annual rainfall is barely measurable.
The name 'hypogaea' comes from the Greek for 'underground', referring to the fact that most of the cactus head is usually sunken into the ground. Spines are absent or there are very few short spines.It makes a cluster of neat heads which have an attractive dark epidermis. The main water-storage part of the species is a fat base or caudex that can reach about 12cm diameter in very old specimens.The well-defined ribs and a wooly apex gives rise to nearly all yellow flowers. The top of this has many growing points that produce narrow stems covered with silvery scales;
The yellow flowers are easily produced and have prominent stamens which look like a starburst.These flowers are funnel shaped, mostly between 1 and 2 inches in diameter.
The miniature species of Copiapoa survive this hostile climate by storing water in tuberous roots or swollen underground stems and pulling themselves down level, or even below, the mineral soil.
It must be protected from excessive heat and sun in summer, and seems to do best in cultivation with a bit of shade. It requires light but regular waterings in summer, but let the soil mix dry between waterings, Prone to rot if over-watered. Needs good drainage. Keep warm and dry in winter .
A suitable potting soil, which can be left undisturbed until the plant outgrows the pot, should have a high percentage of fine gravel with little organic material. The best results can be obtained by watering with rain water and occasional feeding with a low-nitrate fertilizer.
This slow growing cactus is kept for the beauty of its form. It can make an interesting plant for a large container and is a nice centerpiece for a warm, sunny courtyard.