Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 10, 2020

The indicator tree, Weeping cherry blossoms, and saucer magnolias are in full bloom. And the Yoshinos have reached the extension of florets stage.

DC Cherry Blossoms in 2021

It seems increasingly likely that DC will still be under COVID-19 restrictions in spring 2021 while the cherry blossoms are blooming. So it's shaping up to be a good year to follow along from afar from the safety and comfort of your home.

It’s not the prettiest morning at the Tidal Basin–overcast and light rain showers–but the warmer temperatures over the past couple of days have helped move things along. The National Park Service horticulturists determined that 70 percent of the trees had reached the Extension of Florets stage as of yesterday. That’s the third of the six stages they track into the bloom.

The indicator tree is in full bloom. The weeping cherries are blooming. And the saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle are in full bloom and looking magnificent. Photos of them all from this morning are below.

How it Looks at the Tidal Basin this Morning

From a distance, the trees are getting the reddish-brown tint they get as the pink florets start to take over. Up close, you can clearly see progress. Not every tree is on exactly the same schedule, but here are some fairly representative examples of what you could expect to see at the Tidal Basin this morning.

Weeping cherry blossoms in West Potomac Park next to the Potomac.

Early Bloomer

This is a tree I typically track through the blooming process, trying to focus in on the same specific small section to be able to see the day-by-day progress.

This is a different variety and is separate from the indicator tree (on the opposite side of the Tidal Basin), but it reliably marches ahead of the other trees by several days.

It’s also a good illustration of how even just a few days can make a big difference.

March 10

March 8

March 4

March 1

Indicator Tree

The indicator tree is one on the south-eastern side of the Tidal Basin that is reliably a week or two ahead of the others. I have more information on it, including how to find it, here.

It’s in full bloom. Unfortunately, it’s not the most picturesque tree, and its few remaining branches are up high, making it hard to get good photos of.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree.

Saucer Magnolias

The saucer magnolias are in full bloom and looking magnificent.

I took these photos early this morning at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

The top of one of the gates of the Moongate Garden.

Things Happening Nearby

Elsewhere Around and Near the Tidal Basin:

  • The traffic patterns around West Potomac Park are normal. And the parking lot near the paddle boats is open—it hasn’t been closed to become the Welcome Area yet.
  • The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is drained for repairs. It’s likely to be drained through mid-March.
  • The Jefferson Memorial is covered in scaffolding to clean the domed roof. The project isn’t expected to be finished before May.
  • The water features of the FDR Memorial and World War II Memorial are still drained and turned off. They turn them back on once the risk of freezing has receded.
  • The Washington Monument is open and back in business and scaffolding-free.
  • That pungent aroma you’ll notice on the western side of the Tidal Basin isn’t the cherry blossoms (they don’t have much fragrance even when blooming fully), it’s fresh fertilizer in the garden beds at the FDR Memorial.

View Comments

  • An outstanding site and service. Our daughter, who lives in the D.C. area forwarded it to us in NJ. We were down for the festival several years ago and were blown away. Keep p up the great work.

    Dave B.

  • Keep up the awesome work Dave! This website has been very helpful for me in considering my travel plans to Washington to see the cherry blossoms. I'm traveling from Canada and very eager to make my travels plans but I suppose I'll have to be patient and wait as more updates unfold before I finalize anything haha.

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