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Fruit Trees that Attract Deer: How to Choose the Right Apple Trees for Deer

While deer are beautiful to look at, many people don’t want them in their yards because of how destructive they are to vegetation. Plenty of ways exist to plant deer-resistant gardens, but what if you want to invite them in?

Planting apple trees for deer is the perfect way to let these animals know they’re welcome!

Besides foliage and vegetation, deer enjoy pome fruits (like pears and apples), persimmons, plums, and berries. However, they can be a little picky with their apple tree varieties.

Keep reading to learn what varieties of apple trees deer enjoy and how to choose the right apple trees for deer!

Young deer eating a red apple in the woods on an overcast day. Focus is on the face. There is room for text on the left.

5 Apple Tree Varieties That Attract Deer

Did you know there are about 30 different subspecies within the white-tailed deer family found in the United States? A single deer typically eats a couple of pounds of food per day. They need to eat this much to keep their energy up since they’re prey animals.

Providing food for them in the form of vegetation and fruit trees can make their food hunt easier. Consider these varieties if you’re looking for the perfect apple trees for deer!

Arkansas Black

The Arkansas Black apple tree is a big favorite among deer. The tree typically grows 15-20 feet tall with a similar spread. It produces beautiful white flowers in spring and summer, which turn into deep crimson red, medium-sized apples by the fall.

Their red coloring is almost so dark that it can make the apples look black, hence their name! Harvest season for these sweet and tart apples is in October.

If you want to buy Arkansas Black apple trees for deer, they grow best in USDA hardiness zones 5-8. Remember that it will take up to three years before the trees produce fruit.


long aisle between rows of apple trees. apple orchard, agricultural enterprise, selection of apples. On small trees, a lot of fruits, red apples grow. Apple harvest, early autumn. aero video

Enterprise apple trees are very hardy and disease resistant, which is why many apple orchards have them. They usually grow 12-15 tall and wide, so they’re a little smaller than other apple tree varieties.

The tree will produce white flowers in late spring to summer, which turn into bright red, large apples. These tart, spicy apples should be ready to harvest or to get eaten by deer in October.

This apple tree does best in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 and takes up to five years before bearing fruit. If you want to get these apple trees for deer, check Stark Bro’s for availability!


The Freedom apple tree is another highly disease-resistant favorite among orchardists and deer alike. It’s a small variety, each tree growing 12-15 tall and wide. Like other apple trees, it’s covered with white blooms in the spring and summer.

Freedom apples ripen by the end of September. They’re usually medium to large-sized apples with bright red coloring and a deliciously sweet taste.

If you want to buy Freedom apple trees for deer, they will thrive well in USDA hardiness zones 4-9. And they will take up to five years to grow fruit.

Gold Rush

gold rush apple

Gold Rush apple trees typically grow 8-16 feet tall, with a spread around the same size. They produce white flowers in the spring and summer, leading to bright, beautiful apples in the fall. Instead of red, like most apple varieties, these apples are golden yellow with hints of orange.

The apples will start to ripen in mid-fall and should be ready for eating by mid to late October. They have a tasty mix of sweet and tart flavors for your deer friends.

This apple tree variety does well in USDA hardiness zones 5-8. It might take up to around five years for it to produce its golden apples.

If you want to buy Gold Rush apple trees for deer, check out places like Stark Bro’s for availability!


liberty apple

The Liberty apple tree is a small, low-maintenance, and disease-resistant tree that typically grows 8-15 feet tall and wide. However, it isn’t uncommon for them to reach heights and spreads of up to 20 feet.

This tree’s white flowers bloom in the spring and summer, leading to bright red, large-sized apples in the early fall. The apples ripen in September, offering you and deer tangy, slightly sweet fruits.

If you want to purchase Liberty apple trees for deer, they enjoy growing in USDA hardiness zones 5-8. And they start bearing fruit between two and five years after planting.

How To Choose the Right Apple Trees For Your Property

There are a few things you need to think about when choosing apple trees for deer. You’ll need to pay attention to a few things, such as the tree’s care requirements, planting zones, and more. Use the following information as a guide to choosing the best apple trees for deer and landscaping.

Think About the Tree’s Soil, Watering, and Fertilizing Requirements

Apple trees have specific planting requirements that are different from other trees. They usually like to be in slightly acidic, well-drained, and moist soil.

You’ll need to have a good drainage system with either organic matter or rocks. You’ll also need to keep up with watering to ensure the tree gets a few inches weekly.

Fertilizing is a good idea to keep apple trees healthy, especially if your soil is nutrient-deficient. Using a fruit tree fertilizer in the spring will usually do the trick. If your soil doesn’t have all the right qualities, your apple trees will not thrive and might even die.

Consider Your Climate and Planting Zone

When choosing apple trees for deer in your yard, the first thing to consider is the tree’s required planting zones. The climate determines whether or not your apple trees will thrive.

You’ll need to know your USDA hardiness zone and ensure it falls within the tree’s required zone range. If your zone is too hot or cold for your apple trees, they’ll likely go into shock or die.

Think About Pollination

Apple trees need to cross-pollinate with other apple trees to produce fruit. So you’ll need to have a minimum of two apple trees near each other for this to happen. Crabapple trees can also help pollinate apple trees.

You’ll need to be sure you have room for at least two apple trees. So, consider the size of the variety you choose.

Consider the Size of the Tree Compared to the Size of Your Yard

Apple trees come in all different heights and spread widths. So, you’ll need to consider the size of your yard when picking your apple trees for deer. If you have a small yard, plant small varieties like Liberty or Gold Rush apple trees.

If your trees are too crowded, they compete for nutrients, light, and water. This can lead to stunted growth in at least one of the trees.

Frequently Asked Questions

apple trees for deer

What is a white-tailed deer’s favorite apple?

White-tailed deer don’t necessarily have a favorite apple. But, they seem to prefer small apples because they’re easier to eat with their small mouths. They also like to snack on crabapples because of their tiny size.

How many apples can a deer eat in a day?

If you have apple trees for deer in your yard, they’ll usually eat a few fruits each day. However, they could eat as many as 20 per day. Their diet is mostly greens like grasses, flowers, and foliage – if those are plentiful, they’ll probably eat fewer apples.

Can deer smell apples?

Yes, deer can smell apples and other strong-smelling foods from many feet away. Deer generally have a great sense of smell.

Start Planting!

Apple trees can make a great addition to the yard for you and your furry deer friends. Deers love the taste of apples, and making them available is the perfect way to let deer know that your yard is a safe space to eat.

Consider planting apple trees for deer if you want to see these graceful animals visiting often.

Do you want to learn more about apple trees? Check out our Apple Tree page for more information!