Newly transplanted trees browning - transplant shock, overwaterin
I guess my first question is actually: what are these? I had a friend who was nice enough to let me transplant some good-sized trees from a field, but we really don't know what they are. We assumed that they were at least fairly native & safe, as they were growing wild, and I've seen them all over the place. Not sure exactly how safe that assumption is, but at the very least, that should indicate that they should have no problem growing in this area (Southwest TN).
I transplanted these in Mid July (I know, mistake #1, but time was not on our side). I did my best to take as much root as possible with each tree - I believe I was able to manage about a 4' diameter root ball on each one. I should note that the roots were all very shallow - very few had anything more than a few inches deep. This led to a lot of the dirt coming off during transport, so they ended up being an almost bare-root transplant. Problem #2, I'm guessing.
When we planted them, my, um, "helper" put some slow release, high nitrogen & phosphorus fertilizer in, and watered thoroughly. Only afterwards did I realize how much he had put - I'm afraid he may have overfertilized. Possible problem #3.
It's been 2-3 weeks since I finished the transplant, and the trees have all taken on various shades of brown. Some seem to be coming back a little more towards the green side, but I'm really not sure what to do at this point.
It's possible they need more water. I keep the soil moist with a 75' soaker hose every morning (30 minutes/day, increased about a week ago from 10-15 minutes/day). But it's also 90 degrees and sunny here every day, so I could definitely see needing more water. The area is well-drained - they're on a slight slope, so water doesn't really pool up or anything.
It's possible they need less water. The soil (3-4" deep) is always moist, not slimy, but there are a couple places (slightly downhill from the trees) that are always slightly soft when I walk on them now, like they're just mud. I know overwatering can be just as dangerous as underwatering, but I'm really at a loss to as to how to know which one these might be experiencing.
It's possible they have root burn from the overfertilizing. The good news is that it's slow release, so maybe it wouldn't hit the trees quite as hard as fast-release. The bad news is that it's slow release, so the problem may persist for much longer. And, of course, the solution for this appears to be lots and lots of water - not something I really want to try if I'm not sure if they're overwatered or not.
Or it's possible that it's just transplant shock, and I'm being paranoid because I have so much time & effort invested in these. I thought transplant shock usually cleared within a couple weeks, but maybe I'm wrong, especially with larger plants.
Or maybe it's something else altogether. I'm good at reading possible problems online, but apparently very poor at diagnosing the issues myself. If you see something else that's going on, please let me know.
At this point, losing these trees is really not an option. Besides the time & effort put in, there simply aren't any more trees in this size range available to me. I'm more than willing to do whatever it takes to make sure these survive.