Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 21, 2023

More cherry blossoms have come out, and they’re on track to hit peak sometime over the next day or two.

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.

More cherry blossoms have come out, and they’re on track to hit peak sometime over the next day or two as temperatures warm.

There’s still a wide spread of stages. Some trees are in full bloom, but there are more than a few that are lagging well behind. In the stretch between the MLK Memorial and Japanese Lantern, for example, there are many that are moving slowly and lagging behind. It happens to include some of the oldest trees, but I suspect that’s a coincidence.

There is some rain expected later this week. It’s never possible to say with absolute certainty, but the odds are good that the flowers will still be strong enough to just shrug it off. Even if the rain and wind knock a few petals off from some of the earliest bloomers, it’s probably not going to have much of an impact on the vast majority of them.

You can find photos taken at the Tidal Basin this morning down below.

Beautiful Blossom Artwork

But first, I want to give a plug for some stunning new cherry blossom paintings by an amazingly talented local artist and friend, Jo Edwards. If you’ve been following this site for a while, you would have seen some of Jo’s work before–she created the artwork that used to be featured on the front page of this site for several years.

Jo has recently completed a beautiful new series of pieces inspired by blossoms (including the cherry blossoms). They’re using acrylic and molding paste, and the effect is really striking.

You can see the full series, find more information on these beautiful original works, and check out the incredible detail and texture in them on Jo’s website.

About the Artist: Jo Edwards is a fine artist and freelance designer with a degree in media arts and design from James Madison University. She has created artwork for the New York Times bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club memoir Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton. Her murals are featured on buildings in the Washington, DC, and northern Virginia areas. When she’s not creating beautiful art, Edwards is spending time with her husband and two sons.

How It Looks at the Tidal Basin This Morning

It’s a beautiful spring morning down at the Tidal Basin. Sunny and calm, starting chilly but warming. And surprisingly quiet.

These were all taken this morning.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Still plenty yet to open on this tree, but the tree right next to it is in full bloom. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Another example of a tree that has started blooming but still has plenty yet to open. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. In this stretch, the trees are yet to really start blooming. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. The trees to the right here are some of the oldest at the Tidal Basin, but you can see that they’re still not blooming very much compared to the one at left in the foreground. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms getting close to peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 21, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
The Reflecting Pool is still drained as of this morning. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH

Reader Photos 2023

I’ve been getting some questions about whether I’ll be doing the reader photo submissions this year.

Absolutely! But submissions aren’t open yet. So keep your best shots handy and keep a lookout for the submission information coming soon (probably Monday or Tuesday).

For those who have started following along more recently, you can find some examples from previous years here.

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.

Things Worth Knowing

  • West Basin Drive is closed for the Welcome Area setup and is scheduled to remain closed until 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 scheduled to remain closed until April 5.
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs until April 16.
  • 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 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.)
  • I’ve put together some informational pages if you’re coming in to see the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin:

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