Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 14, 2016

It's cool and damp at the Tidal Basin, but the very first blossoms are starting to pop on the indicator tree.

It’s damp, cool, and rather dreary down at the Tidal Basin.

The first few blossoms are starting to pop on the indicator tree. But it’s only a very small number for now–I could see maybe 3 or 4 on the whole tree (its branches are high up, so it’s not always easy to get a close view). There’ll be more and more coming out over the next few days.

Typically the indicator tree is a week to ten days ahead of the others, but it’s possible that its lead might be less this year with the compressed timetable we’re seeing. There are some photos below of the indicator tree, and you can find out more about it here.

The NPS judged that as of yesterday, March 13, the trees had reached the “florets visible” stage. That’s an exceptionally quick progression from the “green buds” stage. In a “normal” year, the florets visible stage is typically about 16-21 days before peak bloom. But this isn’t a normal year because of the very warm stretch we’ve had. Before we get to peak bloom we still have a few more designated stages: extension of florets, peduncle elongation, and puffy white.

Also, if you’re not lucky enough to have a cherry blossom tree in your yard but still want some cherry blossoms at home, some florists at this time of year stock Yoshino cherry blossom branches. I picked up some this morning from The Enchanted Florist in Old Town, Alexandria. (It’s worth calling ahead–they don’t always have them in stock.)

Elsewhere around the Tidal Basin, the Maine Ave parking lot is now closed to parking as they set up the festival tents. And, as you can see, the tour buses are turning up en masse.

Indicator Tree

Photos Taken This Morning

I’ve included close-ups from several different trees to give a representative sample, because not every tree is on precisely the same schedule.

Want to Help Support DC's Cherry Trees?

If you'd like to help support the care and upkeep of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, the Trust for The National Mall has launched an Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign. Donations go to the official Cherry Tree Endowment, which will give the National Park Service additional resources to fund the care, maintenance, and possible replacement of the cherry trees. You can find more information here.

The Trust is dedicated to marshaling private support for maintaining and improving the history National Mall area. I'm not affiliated with the Trust--just an admirer of their efforts.

Last updated November 28, 2016 3:51 pm

View Comments

  • Latest weather forecast calls for mostly 60s through Thursday, then 50s after, down from the 70s and 80s last week. Could the cooler temperatures ahead slow the bloom progression a bit?

    It appears peak bloom will happen March 22-24, based on historical NPS data. I'll be in Washington DC March 24-26...hoping for some cherry blossoms.

    • Certainly possible. Although even in the 60s is above normal for this time of year. The average maximum for this time of year is around 55.

  • Last year we are ahead 1 week, and now we plan again to go there on 21st March, do you think we can get at least 50% of cherry blossom based on the weather forecast? Thank you!

    • Based on the indicator tree starting to pop, my best guess at this point is yes, there should be cherry blossoms to see on the 21st. And you might end up doing better than 50%.

        • They might not all be out yet, but there's a good chance of some. They're developing very quickly this year, so the usual timetable is accelerated. At the very least, the indicator tree is coming out. Here's how to find it.

  • Your home page is great ! thanks for the information
    If God help me i´ll go to D.C for the 25 march
    will i see beautiful trees or full bloom?
    can the last colder days slow in some way the full bloom ( 1 or 2 days)?
    in relation of the current status of indicator tree… are 7 to 10 days for massive cherry bloossom… since the current status or when that tree is in full bloom? do exist records for a more shorter time that this?
    Thanks for your help

    • There's a good chance of there being flowers to see on the 25th. Although the past couple of days have felt colder, they're actually about average for this time of year. It's just that we've become used to the much warmer weather lately.

    • It's very hard to say in advance. In ideal conditions--ie. without rain, wind, or storms--there might be some hanging around for up to 5-7 days after. But ideal conditions are unusual at this time of year. I have a photo timeline of what to expect in the days after peak bloom.

  • What is your latest prediction for peak blooms this year? Many thanks for all of your helpful info!

    • The main ones will be done by then, but it's possible you might catch the Kwanzan cherry blossoms which bloom a couple of weeks later. I have on them here.

  • Hi. Thank you so much for the frequent updates. My plan is to come down next Tues & Wed, but I just noticed the forecast has a cold snap for Sun & Mon with maybe even some snow. In your experience, how will that affect the blossoms? Thank you!

    • Frost can pose a problem at some of these later stages. But at least on the forecasts I've seen so far they're expecting actual temperatures to remain above freezing. So there's potential for trouble, but it really depends on how cold it actually gets.

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