Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 18, 2018

It's shaping up as a sparkling spring day, but unfortunately there aren't many cherry blossoms to see yet.

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 shaping up as a sparkling spring day–and a little warmer than it has been lately–but unfortunately there aren’t many cherry blossoms to see yet.

There are a handful, but you have to go hunting for them. The indicator tree, which is a single tree that is consistently ahead of the others, has at least some flowers on it, but it’s not the prettiest tree and is hard to photograph. It’s just to the east of the Jefferson Memorial; I have more detailed information on how to find it here. There’s a smattering of other petals around, with the occasional tree with a few in the puffy white stage right before popping. The vast majority are in various bud stages.

The NPS horticulturists judged that 70 percent of the buds had finally (!) reached the “florets visible” stage on March 15, the second of the five stages the NPS tracks before the flowers are out. With the cool temperatures, they got stuck in the “green buds” stage for longer than usual even though they’d gotten an early start.

The magnolias aren’t quite out yet, but today’s somewhat warmer temperatures should give them a bit of a push closer.

Photos Taken This Morning

Here’s a sense of how things are looking this morning. All photos taken this morning.

Taken this morning with a Fujifilm X-T2.


The Welcome Area is open for business. It’s in the parking lot next to the paddle boats, and you can find information and gift shop tents, portajohns, and food and drink tents as well as an entertainment stage. That also means that that parking lot is closed for parking (and will be through at least April 1).

And on the subject of parking, if you haven’t been down there for a while, it’s worth knowing that much of street parking in the surrounding area (and around the National Mall, for that matter) has been converted to metered parking. That includes the stretch of Ohio Drive near the Tidal Basin as well as lots A, B, and C under the 14th Street Bridge. You can pay at the meter stands or by using the ParkMobile app. I have more detailed information on parking here.

The traffic flow along Ohio Drive is normal for now. When things get busier close to the bloom they usually implement a one-way traffic flow. But for now that’s not in place.

For Photographers

Equinox Sunrise

Clear sunrises might be a bit scarce in the coming week, but we’re coming up on the equinox, so the sun is rising pretty much directly east. That creates an opportunity for lining up the sunrise from the Lincoln Memorial with the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument. And if you turn around, the sun shines directly onto the statue of Lincoln like in the photo at the top of this page.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

The Reflecting Pool is full again.

Also worth mentioning is that while the Lincoln Memorial remains open, the sides and back are barricaded off as they do repairs on the roof. You can still access the steps and the main chamber.

FDR Memorial Water Features

Some, but not all, of the FDR Memorial’s water features are back in action.

Gear Rental Deals

If you’re looking to rent some gear, there are some deals worth knowing about:

  • BorrowLenses has 15% off any rental. Use coupon code TAKE15OFF. Offer expires 3/12 and orders must be delivered/picked up by/on 3/19. They’re also offering 20% off a selection of popular gear (use coupon code 20FOR20 and only applies to these lenses and cameras. And they also have free shipping this week on orders over $99 with coupon code GETFREESHIPPING (Expires 3/19. Order Must be Picked up/Delivered by 3/23).
  • Lens Pro to Go currently has 15% to 25% off through March (must be delivered by March 30).

Locally, Ace Photo, District Camera, and f8 Rentals also offer rental gear, although their selections are often not as extensive as the big online places. And if you’re shooting video, DC Camera’s offerings have some interesting gear.

Sony Trade-In Offer at B&H Photo

Coinciding with the release of their new Sony A7III, Sony is putting an aggressive marketing push behind the other cameras in their Alpha range. That includes a trade-in deal where you can trade in your old non-Sony gear for one of their newer cameras (but not the brand-new A7III, it seems). You can get a quote immediately online as well as get a special trade-in bonus. You can find details at B&H Photo.

And stay tuned for my upcoming hands-on reviews of the brand new Sony A7III as well as the Sony A7RIII, both of which will be posted on my main site

Last updated March 18, 2018

View Comments

  • This is great info - thanks!

    If you were to aim for the best time to come, what would be your best guess? Still looking like one of the forecasts will be accurate?

    I’d like to avoid the crowds of a weekend, so wondering about next Friday, Mar 30th...thoughts?

    • At this point, that seems as good a guess as any. The following Monday might also be good, but it all depends when peak bloom falls because a few days either way can make a big difference. Weekdays are definitely less crowded than weekends, and mornings generally less crowded than afternoons.

  • Thank You for the phitos and updates. I’m visiting DC in the coming weekend. Do you think I can see cherry blossoms by then?

  • This has been such a great page to follow, THANK you for your hard work and updates. I do have a question. It looks like it is going to rain the whole last week of march right when peak bloom is predicted. How will that effect the bloom?

    • Glad it's useful. Rain isn't itself much of an issue until after the main bloom. After the flowers have peaked they become more fragile as the petals come off. But that's on their way out (like this, and rain isn't generally much of an issue until then.

  • Hi David,

    Thank you for all you do for this website. I’m visiting DC next weekend for the first time. I hope to see some bloom but it doesn’t look too likely. I have been looking through your old posts and saw that you had some interactive 360. Do you mind telling me how to do that? Thanks again!

    • Those have been shot with various cameras, although the quickest and simplest of them recently has been the Ricoh Theta S. I have more information on them here.