Deer and Crabapples: What To Know To Protect Your Trees

Many gardeners and homeowners opt for crabapple trees because of their beautiful spring flowers and ornamental fruits.

However, these beautiful trees can also attract unwanted visitors to your yard, such as deer.

Do deer eat crabapple trees? Yes, deer are attracted to crabapple trees and may eat the leaves, buds, flowers, and fruits. Some crabapple varieties are more attractive to deer than others, and the level of damage can vary depending on the local deer population and other available food sources.

In the following sections, we’ll explain deer feeding habits, why they are attracted to crabapple trees, and how to protect your trees from deer damage.

Key Takeaways

  • Deer are attracted to crabapple trees and may eat the leaves, buds, flowers, and fruits. The level of damage can vary depending on the local deer population and other available food sources.
  • Some crabapple varieties are less likely to be damaged by deer, while others are particularly attractive to them.
  • Physical barriers, such as fencing and tree guards, are the most effective way to protect your trees from deer. Deterrents and repellants can also be used, but their success can vary.
  • Understanding deer feeding habits and how to protect your trees can help you enjoy the beauty of your crabapple trees without the frustration of deer damage.

Looking to gain a deeper understanding of crabapple trees by finding answers to common questions? Consult my article, Commonly Asked Questions About Crabapple Trees, for comprehensive insights.

Understanding Deer Feeding Habits

Deer are herbivores, and their diet consists mainly of plant material. Understanding their feeding habits can help you protect your trees and other plants.

Deer Behavior and Browsing Tendencies

Deer are browsers, which means they eat a variety of plant material, including leaves, stems, buds, and fruits.

They tend to feed in the early morning and late evening although they can also be active at night.

Deer are creatures of habit, and once they find a reliable food source, they will often return to it regularly.

Preferred Foods

Deer have a wide-ranging diet, and their preferred foods can vary depending on the season and what’s available.

In the spring and summer, they prefer tender, new growth, such as the leaves and buds of trees and shrubs.

In the fall and winter when other food sources are scarce, they may eat the bark and twigs of trees, including crabapple trees.

Factors That Influence Deer Feeding Patterns

Several factors can influence deer feeding patterns, including the local deer population, the availability of other food sources, and the season.

In areas with a high deer population or where other food sources are scarce, deer may cause significant damage to trees and other plants.

The risk of deer damage is also higher in the winter when other food sources are scarce.

Two whitetail does at sunset.

Crabapple Trees and Deer Attraction

Crabapple trees can be particularly attractive to deer due to their edible foliage, flowers, and fruits.

Crabapple Tree Foliage, Blossoms, and Fruits

Crabapple trees have lush, green foliage that can be a tempting food source for deer, particularly in the spring when the leaves are new and tender.

The flowers, which bloom in the spring, can also be eaten by deer. However, it’s the fruits of the crabapple tree that are often the most attractive to deer.

These small, apple-like fruits can provide a valuable food source for deer, particularly in the fall and winter when other food sources are scarce.

Why Are Deer Attracted to Crabapple Trees?

Deer are attracted to crabapple trees for several reasons. The trees provide a variety of food sources, including leaves, flowers, and fruits.

Additionally, the fruits of crabapple trees tend to be small and easy for deer to eat. The trees also tend to have a low, spreading habit, which makes the leaves and fruits easily accessible to deer.

Nutritional Value and Palatability for Deer

Crabapple fruits are high in carbohydrates, which can provide a valuable source of energy for deer, particularly in the fall and winter when other food sources are scarce.

The leaves and buds also provide nutrition for deer. The palatability, or how tasty deer find crabapple trees, can vary depending on the specific variety of crabapple and the time of year.

Deer-Resistant Crabapple Trees

While all crabapple trees can be attractive to deer, some varieties are less likely to be damaged by deer. These include:

  • ‘Adams’: This variety produces deep-pink flowers and has a resistance to many diseases that can affect crabapples. Its fruits are larger and may be less attractive to deer.
  • ‘Donald Wyman’: Known for its white flowers and bright-red fruits, this variety is also disease resistant, and its fruits persist on the tree, which may deter deer.
  • ‘Sugar Tyme’: This variety offers white flowers and glossy, red fruits. It’s also resistant to many common crabapple diseases.

Remember that “deer resistant” does not mean “deer proof.” A hungry deer will eat almost anything!

Best Crabapple Trees for Deer

If you’re looking to attract deer to your property, some crabapple varieties are particularly appealing to them. These include:

  • ‘Dolgo’: This variety is known for its large, edible fruits that are sweet and attractive to deer.
  • ‘Callaway’: This tree produces small, red fruits that are known to attract deer.
  • ‘Indian Magic’: This variety offers pink flowers and small, red fruits that persist into the winter, providing a long-lasting food source for deer.

How To Protect Crabapple Trees From Deer

If you have deer in your area and are concerned about protecting your crabapple trees, there are several strategies you can use.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers are the most effective way to protect your trees from deer. This can include fencing around your property or individual trees.

Tree guards or wraps like these can also be used to protect the trunk and lower branches of the tree.

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Deterrents and Repellants

There are also a variety of deterrents and repellants available that can help keep deer away from your trees.

These can include ultrasonic repellent devices, motion-activated sprinklers, and commercial deer repellants.

Keep in mind that these methods can have varying levels of success and may need to be combined with other strategies for the best protection.

Related Questions:

Do Deer Eat Crabapple Tree Leaves?

Yes, deer can eat the leaves of crabapple trees. They are particularly attracted to the tender, new growth in the spring.

When Do Crabapples Ripen?

Crabapples typically ripen in the late summer or early fall, depending on the specific variety and the local climate.

With many varieties, the fruits will remain on the tree for a month or more rather than falling off, even when ripe.

Conclusion

Crabapple trees can be a beautiful addition to your landscape, but they can also attract deer.

Understanding deer feeding habits and how to protect your trees can help you enjoy the beauty of your crabapple trees without the frustration of deer damage.

With the right strategies, you can coexist with the deer while protecting your trees.

Keep learning! We’ve answered some other common questions about Crabapple trees you might find interesting.