You said they were
You said they were mulched.What were they mulched with? If it is a heavy mulch such as bark or garden rock you will need to water for a longer period of time to get water into the roots of the plant. The"splotches",you could try a spray mist or wash of 1 teaspoon dishsoap in a gallon of water and spray for bugs,slugs,cutworms-those green catipillars.