Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 15, 2016

It's another cool and drizzly morning at the Tidal Basin. The indicator tree has more flowers coming out but still has many more to go before it reached peak bloom.

UPDATE: Later in the evening of March 15, the NPS revised their 2016 peak bloom forecast again to beginning March 23-24, which is Wednesday-Thursday of next week. More information here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The NPS determined that 70 percent of the trees reached the "extension of florets" stage on March 15.

There's not all that much new since yesterday. There are more flowers fully out on the indicator tree--maybe a few dozen popped now--but still many, many more to go before it reaches peak bloom.

The other trees are still doing their thing. Many of them are in the "extension of florets" or "peduncle elongation" stages, but not every tree is at exactly the same point. And I have an example below to show that not every branch on even the same tree is at the same stage.

It's still cool and a little drizzly. But while it feels cold, it's actually closer in line with our normal temperatures for this time of year. It's just that we've gotten spoiled lately with warmer weather.

A lot of readers have been asking when the rest of the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom. I'm generally hesitant to predict because there are so many things that can come into play--especially so this year with the usual timetable not being much use as a guide--I'm not a horticulturalist, and a day here or there can make a big difference, but my current best guess is that the middle of next week is looking good. The indicator tree is now starting to pop, and many of the other trees look to be the usual week or so behind. But between now and then we have a mixed bag of weather, with a few warm days coming up and even some forecasts for potential snow showers late in the weekend. So, for what it's worth, I share this guess with the understanding that it might prove to be wrong.

Other readers have been asking how long the flowers last. What I'd consider the "safe" zone is up to 2-3 days after the peak bloom date. The flowers will be turning pink during this period and some will start to fall. Many of my favorite photos were taken 2 to 3 days after peak bloom. But once we start getting 3 or more days after peak bloom, it gets a bit more touch and go. It's entirely possible, with the right conditions, for them to last much longer. But it's also possible that rain, warm weather, wind, or storms can come through and knock them off. In recent years, they've been mostly gone by a week after peak bloom. I've put together this photo timeline that gives examples of what you might expect to see before and after peak bloom.

Finally, a quick shout-out to some local small businesses I've been working with lately.

With local gardens starting to come to life, I've been shooting some photos for Beautiful Gardens recently. If you're in the Northern Virginia area and are looking for some expert help to spruce up your garden landscaping now that we're getting into spring, give them a call! You can find their contact information here.

And a big thank you to the very talented Jo Edwards for the new bespoke illustration on the front page! You can check out more of her work on her website.

Indicator Tree

The indicator tree has more flowers out since yesterday but has many more still to go. It's mostly around the puffy white stage for now, but more and more flowers will pop over the next couple of days.

You can find out more about the indicator tree here, including how to find it.

Photos Taken This Morning

Single Tree Example

Not every tree is on the same schedule, and there can be a surprisingly wide variation even on a single tree. Here's an example. These were all taken on the same tree at the same time.

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 March 16, 2016 9:20 am

View Comments

  • Hi, Thanks for your updates,I live on them!
    I'm debating myself to there either on Sunday 20th or Sunday 27th, which day do you think I have a better chance to see them in bloom?

    • Last evening the NPS revised their forecast to beginning March 23-24. So it looks like it might split the weekends. So the weekend of 26-27 seems like a slightly better bet (with 26th being better than 27th), but there is at least some risk that rain, wind, or storms might come through and knock the petals off the trees. This photo timeline from past years might help. As you'll see in that, once you get to 3 days after peak bloom it can start being a bit touch and go.

  • Hi.. I have been following your updates daily. Thank you so much. I know you must be getting many emails on this subject but I thought I would ask this specific one. Do I visit the tidal basin on the coming Sunday and Monday or do I visit on next Saturday and Sunday or both. I stay in Princeton so can drive down.

    Saumil

    • The NPS last evening revised their forecast to beginning March 23-24. So it looks like it might split the week. If I had to choose, I'd probably say that the following weekend might be better--some of my favorite photos were taken 2-3 days after the peak bloom day. That said, the petals after about 3 days are more vulnerable to wind, storms, and rain, so there's some risk. And there are likely to be big crowds that Easter weekend. Another strike against this coming Sunday-Monday is the weather forecast--cold, with potential snow showers. I'm going to try to do daily updates between now and then, so the new photos might help. As might this photo timeline compiled with shots from past years.

  • Hi David- Thank you for maintaining this website. This is the third year that I've followed your updates and they are extremely helpful. I plan on buying a few prints from you soon. Thank you!

    P.S.- Love the new bespoke artwork!

  • This good news i'm taking my wife down for her first time to DC i planned the trip in Feb and booked the room then for the 25-27th wow i'm never this lucky

    great trip from Maine

  • Thank you very much for your information! We changed our book to March 26 to 28, and we hope it will be just right!
    We are excited to see the blossoms!

    • There might be some early ones out, but it looks like most of them will be coming out a bit later in the week.

    • At the moment it looks like most of them will be well on their way out or gone by then. But it's possible there might be some stragglers.

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