Answer: Dense shade is a challenging place for plants. I have an area of dense shade where ferns grow well. Ferns come in lots of shades of green with many leaf shapes. Some are also variegated. Some spread readily by underground rhizomes, while others are slow to establish, needing frequent watering for a while.
Also great in dense shade are the ivies. There are several variegated forms of this hardy plant. Cast-iron plant, aptly named for its determination to survive comes in a variegated form and was recently an FNGLA Plant of the Year. Gingers are good in dense shade as well. Note that all of these plants will grow in full, partial and light shade also.
For some color, add caladiums, purple oxalis, purple queen, begonias and impatiens. The last two will benefit from pot culture and, need a little more water and an occasional vacation trip to light shade. And, some of these can spread ? another reason to keep them confined in pots.
If you use a lot of purple-leaved plants some lime-colored or variegated leaves will provide a nice contrast. Oxalis has a yellow green variety that could be paired with its purple sister. Spider plant has lots of white foliage and pairs well with purple plants too.
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