So I figured out what was going on with my aloe plant.
It started wilting and drooping a month or so ago, maybe a month and a half. I was sticking to the same watering frequency, it got about the same amount of light, the temperature was mostly unchanged. It sits by a window, so while it was a little colder and the light was a little less due to autumn and now winter, the changes weren’t much. I’ve had other aloes through winter, and they did just fine. This one was dropping, the fronds (stalks, tendrils?) lay against the pot, and it wasn’t reaching towards the light. Some parts had turned white. The soil was dry between waterings on the surface, and wiggling my finger about two knuckles down, the dirt was damp, not really wet, and certainly not saturated.
It lives in a pot with a saucer. I picked the pot up, maybe three or four days after watering, and dirty water just flowed out the bottom. The top of the soil was dry. More than half a watering’s worth of water dumped out the bottom.
The bottom of the pot looks like a wine bottle. It’s got a raised center around a low ring. The drainage holes are on that low ring, pointing down. When the pot sits in its saucer, the ring presses the drainage holes down, and the soil can’t drain.
Okay. Maybe mold. Maybe root rot. Definitely too much moisture.
I chopped a 2×2 into two six-inch lengths and put those under the pot as spacers. The drainage holes now open to free air. Then I threw a fan on it to really dry the dirt out. I didn’t water at all for a couple weeks, and when I started up again, I only gave it a little. Maybe half a cup.
Most of that immediately poured into the saucer on the first watering, but less on the second, and by the third, none came out. I aim for a few drops. Ideally just enough to show the soil is thoroughly moistened, but not excessive. I water about a cup, but really just enough to see a few drops hit the saucer a few minutes later.
The thing is growing again. The central stalks are reaching for the window, one of the limp stalks is up off the pot, and the other is a darker shade of green.
The next garlic bulb is also going. It’s in slightly deeper soil than before, but otherwise not different from its doomed predecessors. There’s an aloe frond next to it. The frond got knocked off the revitalized aloe in moving, so I stuck it in some dirt. It seems to be doing pretty well. The faded color and thinness are common when a cutting starts putting down roots.