Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 20, 2023

The cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin aren’t yet in full bloom, but a few warmer days coming up will bring many more flowers out. So they should be in full bloom by the end of this week.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin

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2024 Peak Bloom

It's still too early to know precisely when the famous cherry blossoms will bloom around the Tidal Basin in Spring 2024. By early March, we'll start getting a better sense of timing, after we see how temperatures are trending during the latter part of the winter. Warmer temperatures bring an earlier bloom; cooler temperatures push the bloom later.

There are a lot of cherry blossom flowers out now around the Tidal Basin, but they’re not yet in full bloom. Now that we’re heading into warmer temperatures, many more flowers will start coming out. So they should be in full bloom within days and looking beautiful later this week through the weekend.

They’ve weathered a couple of cold nights none the worse for wear. Up close, they’re a little crinkly and droopy early this morning, but they should perk back as it warms up today.

Now that we’re officially in spring–or will be later this evening, technically–there’s no more wintry weather in the immediate forecast. So it should be clear run now to full bloom. Warmer temperatures over the next few days should bring them to peak midweek. And they should be looking great through the weekend. There’s a little rain in the forecast later this week, but the flowers are likely to be strong enough to weather it without much problem.

Heads Up

  • West Basin Drive is closed to traffic, and the Welcome Area is open. (Next to the MLK Memorial).
  • Ohio Drive has now changed to a one-way traffic pattern, but they’ve reversed the direction this year. You can still enter near the Jefferson Memorial–that will direct you around to the left towards Parking Lot A and East Potomac Park in the direction of the golf course. If you want to access the stretch of Ohio Drive that’s next to West Potomac Park (i.e., by the FDR Memorial), you have to enter off Independence Avenue down by the Lincoln Memorial.
  • The Paddle Boat parking lot is closed through April 5.

There’s more info at the bottom of this post.

What to Expect

  • They’ll likely hit peak bloom midweek and be looking wonderful through the weekend.
  • There is rain in the forecast for later this week. In all likelihood, it probably won’t have much negative effect on the cherry blossoms. They’ll still be quite strong and shouldn’t be too bothered by a bit of rain. Even if it does knock a few petals off from some of the early bloomers, it’s likely to only be a tiny fraction of the whole. As they get more fragile into next week, rain and wind will become bigger factors.
  • They should be looking beautiful over the weekend. Even though peak bloom will likely come midweek, that’s a technical threshold that is a single day. It means that 70 percent are blooming. By definition, that leaves about a third still yet to bloom.
  • The Yoshino cherry blossoms start white and gradually turn pale pink as they move past peak bloom.
  • There are about a dozen different varieties of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and the surrounding area. The most numerous, and most famous, are the Yoshino cherry trees. But some of the varieties can be a little pinker than others.
  • There are around 3700 cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and nearby areas. There are many nearby surrounding East Potomac Park (the golf course and Hains Point) as well as quite a few areas of the National Mall.
  • How long they stay out depends largely on the weather. In the right conditions (cool, calm, dry), they can be out for a week or even two. In the wrong conditions (windy, rainy, hot), they can be chased away in as little as 3-5 days. I’ve put together a visual timeline using photos from previous years here. As the blossoms move past peak bloom, they become increasingly fragile. This means that there’s a risk of a big rain or windstorm knocking many of them off. And unsettled weather is quite normal at this time of year.

How It Looks This Morning

These were all taken this morning.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
LINCOLN MEMORIAL, Washington DC — The spring equinox sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial on March 20, 2023. This is not enhanced or Photoshopped. It’s straight out of the camera like this. It’s the natural lighting of the sun moments after sunrise. It shines directly into the chamber of the Lincoln Memorial, illuminating the statue, at specific times of the year and in the right weather conditions for a few minutes after the sun breaks the horizon. You can find more information about how to take this shot here. I took this one with a camera I’m testing at the moment, the Fujifilm X-T5 with a Fujifilm XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR lens. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
LINCOLN MEMORIAL, Washington DC — The spring equinox sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial on March 20, 2023. Taken with a Fujifilm X-T5 with a Fujifilm XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR lens. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. This is at the MLK Memorial. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
WEST POTOMAC PARK, Washington DC — The stretch of Ohio Drive next to West Potomac Park (near the FDR and MLK Memorials) has been changed temporarily to one-way, but it’s flowing in the opposite direction to previous years. This year, you enter down by the Lincoln Memorial end (from Independence Avenue). Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms coming into bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 20, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
NATIONAL MALL, Washington DC — The saucer magnolias have faired remarkably well, but they haven’t appreciated the cold of the past two nights and are now looking quite shrivelled up close. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
NATIONAL MALL, Washington DC — The saucer magnolias have faired remarkably well, but they haven’t appreciated the cold of the past two nights and are now looking quite shrivelled up close. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
NATIONAL MALL, Washington DC — The saucer magnolias have faired remarkably well, but they haven’t appreciated the cold of the past two nights and are now looking quite shrivelled up close. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
NATIONAL MALL, Washington DC — The saucer magnolias have faired remarkably well, but they haven’t appreciated the cold of the past two nights and are now looking quite shrivelled up close. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH

Things Worth Knowing

  • West Basin Drive is closed for the Welcome Area setup and is scheduled to remain closed through April 6. The MLK Memorial and FDR Memorial remain open as usual to pedestrian traffic.
  • Ohio Drive has now changed to a one-way traffic pattern, but they’ve reversed the direction this year. You can still enter near the Jefferson Memorial–that will direct you around to the left towards Parking Lot A and East Potomac Park in the direction of the golf course. If you want to access the stretch of Ohio Drive that’s next to West Potomac Park (i.e., by the FDR Memorial), you have to enter off Independence Avenue down by the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a bit messy, because you actually go in what is usually the outgoing side of the John Ericsson Memorial’s traffic island—the usual entrance lanes are blocked off.
  • The Paddle Boat parking lot is closed through April 5.
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 18 through April 16. (They’ve revised the opening date to March 18.)
  • The 2023 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run & 5K Run-Walk is scheduled for the weekend of April 1-2. The Tidal Basin will still be open to pedestrian traffic, but there will be road closures in the surrounding area.
  • The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is still drained.
  • The Jefferson Memorial is still undergoing renovations. The current phase mainly affects the lower level inside, but there’s some fencing and scaffolding at ground level outside. The main rotunda remains open. The exterior renovations to the dome are still looking great!
  • Parking lot A is open. Parking lots B and C aren’t available for visitor parking this year. They’re being used as staging and storage areas for nearby construction on the Metro line. (These are the lots at the base of the 14th St Bridge, behind the George Mason Memorial.)
  • If you’re looking for accommodation, I’ve put together some suggestions on where to stay when visiting DC’s cherry blossoms.

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