Miniature fruit trees make fruit culture easier for the gardener. Growing 8 to 12 feet tall, they are better suited for home-sized gardens than full-sized trees and allow easy access when caring for them. Unfortunately, their lower stature also makes mealtime more convenient for deer. The good news is the gardener is not without resources in limiting the damage deer can do.
Like their full-sized cousins, dwarf fruit trees are susceptible when young and fully within reach of browsing deer. When fully grown, the top of the tree is out of reach, but areas lower than 6 feet are vulnerable. Edible plant parts include the leaves, buds, flowers and fruit.
Miniature fruit trees planted closer to the house and human activity are less vulnerable to deer browsing than those planted on the property's perimeter. Keep fruit trees away from known deer paths. If you have an enclosed area, plant fruit inside it to give a measure of protection.
Commercial deer repellents come in two types. Some emit an offensive odor. These are often made from the urine of bobcat or coyote, natural deer predators. Others have a strong taste deer don't like, such as capsaicin (hot pepper). Not all repellents can be sprayed directly on fruit, so read labels thoroughly.
Use human hair, sprinkled at the base of trees, or hung from branches in mesh bags or nylon stockings. Deodorant soap hung from branches in the same way is often helpful. Human urine and blood meal, a natural plant nutrient product, can be spread on the ground around fruit trees.
If deer are a persistent problem in the home orchard, consider putting up fencing to keep them out. Fences and gates should be 8 feet tall to keep deer from jumping over them. If full enclosure is not practical, fencing the side of the garden where deer gain access sometimes discourages them.
If deer remedies are not effective or practical, consider planting fruit bushes and small fruit trees that deer usually stay away from. Fig, persimmon and paw paw trees are deer resistant. Also consider planting blueberry, elderberry, bearberry and blueberry elder. All these species, except fig, are North American natives.