Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 17, 2019

What a difference a couple of very warm days makes! We've seen temperatures climb into the upper 70s, and that gave the cherry blossoms quite a jolt. The indicator tree now has its first flowers open.

Washington DC's cherry blossoms reached peak bloom on April 1, 2019. They're now done for the year.

You can find some ideas for other things to see and do in DC here.

What a difference a couple of very warm days makes! Both Thursday and Friday saw temperatures climb into the upper 70s, and that gave the cherry blossoms quite a jolt. As you can see from the photos below, they’re moving well beyond the green bud phase, and the indicator tree has its first flowers open. And as we head into the spring solstice, the sunrises are lining up directly down the mall to create some unusual scenes like the one above of the golden sunlight directly on the statue inside the Lincoln Memorial’s main chamber.

How It’s Looking This Morning

It’s a beautiful, crisp morning at the Tidal Basin. The cherry buds have made quite a bit of progress in the past few days.

Indicator Tree

The indicator tree reliably blooms ahead of the others. I have more information about it and how to find it here.

It now has its first flowers coming out. There aren’t many yet, but they’re definitely there.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree. This is a wider look at the indicator tree. Its trunk is the thicker, older one at left, with its main branches reaching out over the walkway. As you can see from this, the flowers so far are really only noticeable up close.

Early Bloomers

These are of one of the other trees that also reliably blooms a little ahead of the other, although not as early as the indicator tree. I’ll aim to track this tree regularly as we move through the bloom. You can see the white petals just starting to poke through.

And these aren’t early bloomers, as such–they’re a different variety that often has flowers on it in the fall and even into the winter. I’m including them here because if you want to see cherry blossoms right now, you can find at least some These ones are in the area at the base of the Washington Monument.

Runners doing the St. Pat’s Run this morning. And ye, those pinkish trees behind them are cherry blossoms blooming. But they’re a different variety that often have flowers on them in the fall and into winter.


The saucer magnolias are also just starting to come out, but they’re not in full bloom yet. It won’t be long now, though. I’ll aim to check in on the ones at the Enid A. Haupt Garden at the Smithsonian Castle in the next few days and include in an update.

These shots were taken of the ones at the George Mason Memorial and the other side of the Mall at the Organisation of American States building.

This saucer magnolias is by the OAS building on Constitution Avenue.

These saucer magnolias are by the George Mason Memorial.

These saucer magnolias are by the George Mason Memorial.

Floral Library

There’s not much to see in terms of tulips at the Floral Library just yet.

The Floral Library.

For Photographers

If you’re after something a bit different and willing to get up early, it’s the time of year when the sun lines up directly along the National Mall at sunrise. And with a clear morning like we had this morning, the sunlight shines in directly on the statue of Abraham Lincoln briefly.

These shots were taken this morning with the new Sony a6400, which is one of the cameras I’m testing out at the moment (stay tuned for my review!). And I’ve put together a more detailed how-to guide on how to get this shot here.

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 19, 2019

View Comments

  • Hi
    thanks for the information
    with this news about the indicator tree and with your experience…
    can you figure out when will be the peak bloom?
    more early than expected?

    thanks David

    • Still hard to say. It started blooming on the back of a very warm few days, but temperatures are expected to cool down to much closer to normal through the coming week. That will slow down the pace for all the others. Last year, there were flowers just starting to come out on the indicator tree around March 12, but cool temperatures after that dragged out the main bloom until April 5. That was an unusually long delay; other years it has been much briefer. So it all really still depends on the temperatures we get.