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I just bought a mandarin, variety 'nova'.

I'm not sure if it's healthy or not, or if it's meant to be like this. It has plenty of new growth but all leaves including new growth are yellow, and the bottoms of the leaves have speckles on them. The tops have slight green in the middle that resembles some kind of deficiency. Other than this is seems to be fine, it's not dropping leaves or anything, so I'm not sure if it has a problem or not. I have a pomelo and it's green so wasn't sure if this mandarin is supposed to be like this or not.

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My gut feeling would be spider mites, but I can't say for sure.

In short, no, a citrus shouldn't look like this. The pale areas with darker veins are chlorosis, which can either be a sign of a mineral deficiency, trouble with the root system or drainage or even a reaction to a pesticide / herbicide. The latter could mean your supplier noticed an infestation of some sort and treated them.

So for now, get your gardening gloves, secateurs and a magnifying lens and check your tree carefully:

  • Insects, especially spider mites

    • Are there tiny crawling insects? Possibly red, but white-is or brown is also frequent.
    • Any small webbed areas, especially at the top and bottom of the leaf stems, along the middle vein or branch forks?
  • Root system

    • Lift the tree out of its pot and check the roots. Remove anything that looks mushy, moldy or otherwise damaged and ensure proper drainage.

Did it look like this when you bought it? If yes, have you contacted your retailer? (I'd try to return it and probably think twice before shopping thete again.)

  • Iv got a high powered microscope I use for microelectronics repairs so il pull a few leaves off tomorrow and take a look. The retailer said that mandarins tend to be lighter but to send them some photos so Iv done that and we'll see. Iv got a large air pruning pot that I was going to use for my mango so might just use it for the citrus if the roots look bad. It was the roots that I thought were rather odd. By the way u forgot to mention it came to me in a big box with straw in it, so I'm not sure if it has harvest mite damage. – Iain Simpson May 20 '17 at 22:23
  • I may be onto something here, look at this google.co.uk/…: – Iain Simpson May 20 '17 at 22:26
  • As it came shipped in straw – Iain Simpson May 20 '17 at 22:26
  • Iv just bought a greenhouse bug bomb that claims to kill spider mites, so il drop that in there and retreat to a safe distance and let them bake in there for a while, if there are any mites in there it should hopefully kill them. – Iain Simpson May 20 '17 at 22:31
  • @IainSimpson No, not harvest mites (they would bite you or your pets, not your plants), but spider mites. – Stephie May 21 '17 at 9:27
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Stephie has a nice answer, but I want to stress out that the yellow leaves is the primary problem. A weak plant will attract and suffer more from other diseases (in this case the spider mites).

Try to fertilise the plant. Take into account the pH when choosing fertiliser and new soil. Extra care if you have calcareous water.

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    Iv just had about 6 leaves from new shoots to old leaves under the microscope, and can't see any signs of life on any of the leaves, on the surface or under it. The blotches seem to be collections of dark cells under the surface, some swelling to the surface layer. – Iain Simpson May 21 '17 at 9:57
  • No that looks more like burnt / fungus, the dark cells are under the surface but can't be seen from the top of the leaf, only the bottom. – Iain Simpson May 21 '17 at 15:20
  • are they fussy about ph ?, as the water is rather Limey round here. – Iain Simpson May 21 '17 at 15:21
  • Thanks, it's not in the ground it's in a pot, Iv only watered it once and had it about a week. Il re pot it next week into this air pruning pot I have with some ericaceous compost and perlite / sand mix and see how it goes, it may be pot bound as far as I know as not checked yet. – Iain Simpson May 21 '17 at 18:05
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    It's exactly the same as it was on arrival, other than watering it once Iv not done anything. – Iain Simpson May 21 '17 at 23:41
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Well we have a happy ending, no idea what the place I bought it off did with it, as after a few weeks of fertilisation and re potting it in an air pruning pot it's sending out loooooads of new growth and the leaves look a more normal colour. The tree was rather tight in the pot, I won't say it was pot bound as it was in a type of air pot so the root ball is very very dense, but the root ball probably made up the vast majority of the pot so there was little soil left to absorb nutrients from. It's now looking a lot happier.

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