The Selaginella Family

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in The Blog | Steve's Leaves, Inc. | Comments Off

A couple of plants that are speaking to me right now are the Selaginella kraussiana sisters. They are green and aureaAurea is the beautiful sister with the lovely golden leaves, while green is the practical sister.

These two plants grow side by side and get along very well. They both make very nice groundcovers in a terrarium or in a dish garden, in a bright window, in the house. If you want excitement, try aurea. If you just want some nice rich color, try the green one. They can stand alone in a nice pot as a low trailing plant. One thing they do not like is warm dry air. Keep them in a cooler spot where the air is not as dry and they will reward you with a beautiful green or golden color and a fine texture.

Their cousin Frosty has just become available.  Frosty’s full name is Selaginella martensii ‘Frosty.’ This cousin grows taller—it will get 6 to 8 inches tall. The tips of the stems in our greenhouse conditions are light yellow, but in very bright light, (not hot sun), the tips will be white. Like her cousins this cultivar does well in a terrarium or in a cool room with a little extra humidity.

– Don


What’s in a Name?

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in The Blog | Steve's Leaves, Inc. | Comments Off

What’s in a name? What difference does it make if we have the right names on our plants? Does anyone really care? Well, if we did not have the right name on a plant you would be very disappointed when your order came and it was not what you had expected.  But common names change for the same plant depending on where you live. The “Rubber Plant” in California may not be the same as the “Rubber Plant” in New York, so we list our plants by scientific names. If you have a question about a name please let me know and I will check it out with our authority. In fact, when we are not sure what the accurate name of the plant is, we put a descriptive “tag” on it and add more details in the plant description. Although pictures can be misleading sometimes, our pictures are taken in the greenhouse of the exact same, genetic material of what we will be sending you. There are a very few exceptions of plants that are grown from seed and that will be noted in the plant description.

We do a lot of research to make sure we have the correct botanical or scientific names for our plants. We use botanical names in our catalog. This system was started in the 18th century by the famous Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus and is called binomial nomenclature. These botanical names consist of two words which are usually latinized. Latin is considered the universal language of science. These names consist of the Genus, which is the group name and is capitalized, and the species, which usually describes the plant and begins with a lowercase letter.  For example, Begonia semperflorens is the scientific name for the plant with the common name “Wax Begonia,” or in some places it is called the “Bedding Begonia.” Begonia is the genus and semperflorens is the species. Semperflorens means ever flowering. This describes this begonia which is always flowering, as long as it gets enough light.

But alas botanical names change too. Sometimes it is discovered that a plant was also named by a botanist at an earlier time. So the rules of international nomenclature say that the first given name is the valid name. Also, botanists are always studying our plants with the newest technology (electron microscopes and DNA sequencing) and reorganizing them, so our botanical nomenclature does change.

We use The Plant List, at, as our authority. This web site is associated with the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis and The Royal Botanical Garden at Kew in London.

Again, if you have a question about a name, please send me an email at

Blooming Begonia burkillii

Posted by on Mar 5, 2013 in The Blog | Steve's Leaves, Inc. | 1 comment

While walking through the greenhouse the other day, I was drawn to the stock plant of an awesome new Begonia species, B. burkillii from India. Under the strikingly beautiful variegated leaves was a mass of green flower buds and pink flowers.

This new species was collected by Rekha Morris, who is able to collect and document Begonias in the dangerous and inaccessible tribal areas of Arunachal, India. This is just one of the many new species from India she has introduced. Another one is the burgundy form of B. burkilli, which is very similar to the variegated form except the leaves are a burgundy color.

This plant has not bloomed for us so I am anxious to see if it is as floriferous as the variegated form. I will keep you posted.

Getting Started with Plants

Posted by on Sep 25, 2012 in The Blog | Steve's Leaves, Inc. | 3 comments

We are often asked, “How did you get your start with plants?” Our own Don Miller, Begonia expert at Steve’s Leaves, answers this question and tells us about his first experiences with plants:

I have always loved plants, ever since I was a young boy growing up in Southern California. One of the greatest influences was my Aunt Doll who lived in Long Beach. Well, she was not a real Aunt but a friend of the family and lady who was designated that title. Aunt Doll was a short ovate lady with flaming red hair and heart shaped, ruby red lips. She lived in little cottage and had an enchanted garden with water trickling over fountains and a real wishing well. Aunt Doll would take me and my brothers through the garden and name the plants and tell stories about them. And I was the one who would always come home with cuttings or small plants to start in my garden. And one of those plants was a begonia.

Begonias have had a special place in my life. There are so many different kinds and yet their floral structure is so simple. There are more than 1,600 species and thousands of hybrids or cultivars. I have had the opportunity to hybridize or create new begonia varieties at Steve’s Leaves. Usually when you cross two different begonias, the offspring will be highly variable. I have crossed an unnamed rex cultivar; we call it “Silver with Dots” with an unnamed Asian species. This species has the American Begonia Society’s “unidentified species number” or “U number” U489. It is a striking species with large silver leaves with a small olive green spot at the point of petiole (stem) attachment.

Now, we have selected three seedlings, out of more than a hundred, to be named and introduced as new cultivars, which are cultivated varieties. They are ‘Starry Nights’, ‘Moon Lit Snow’ and ‘Blushing Beauty’. ‘Starry Nights’ has won “Best New Introduction” and “People’s Choice Award’ at the Southwest Region Begonia Show in San Antonio this year. Check out these three new varieties on our website. You can enjoy them also.

Don Miller

Begonia Breeding

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in The Blog | Steve's Leaves, Inc. | 4 comments

Begonia Breeding

We’ve been busy with our new Begonia Breeding program. Our begonia specialist, Don Miller, has several new hybrids now available, including the Award Winning ‘Starry Nights’! Other varieties include ‘Moonlit Snow’ and ‘Blueberry Sorbet’. Search through our extensive list of begonias for sale and find a new favorite or rediscover an old one.


Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in The Blog | Steve's Leaves, Inc. | Comments Off

Welcome to our new blog! With over 1,000 different plants in the greenhouse, we’ve been very busy with the website and are adding new varieties every week. Please navigate through the site and tell us which varieties are your favorite. We love hearing from our customers. Don’t forget to send us a note on the Contact Us page.

Thank you for visiting and we hope you’ll check back often.