It's still too early to pin down when DC's cherry blossoms will bloom in 2020, and no peak bloom forecasts have been issued yet. Stay tuned for the first peak bloom forecasts to be announced around the beginning of March.
It has been a much warmer-than-normal winter so far. And there's not much in the available forecasts to suggest that that pattern is likely to change as we get into March. So all indications at this point suggest an early bloom. That said, we're dealing with the weather, and if we get a sustained cold spell in March, it can slow things down considerably.
The warmer temperatures of the past couple of days have given the cherry blossoms another little prod, and many trees are closing in on the puffy white stage. As you walk around the Tidal Basin, it’s becoming easier to come across the occasional flowers out–though it’s still only a tiny percentage–and the indicator tree and some of the other early bloomers are coming into full bloom. But the vast majority of the trees aren’t blooming yet.
The forecast is for it to cool down for a few days, which will slow things down a bit. Warmer temperatures are expected later in the week, which will help move things along again by the weekend. Even if they’re not in full bloom yet, it will be easier to find flowers out this coming weekend.
Photos and more details below.
How It’s Looking Today
It’s another pretty and clear spring morning down at the Tidal Basin. Here are some shots of how things are looking today.
The NPS has just posted that the buds have reached the “Peduncle Elongation” stage as of today.
Where You Can Find Cherry Blossoms Flowering Now
Not all of the trees are on the same schedule. There are about a dozen different varieties. And even within the same variety, some trees naturally bloom earlier than others. There are some cherry blossoms blooming now, although it’s a very small number and you really need to go looking for them. The vast majority still have some work to do.
There’s one tree over by the Jefferson Memorial that reliably blooms ahead of the others. It’s known as the indicator tree, and it’s starting to bloom now. Unfortunately, it’s not the prettiest tree and its few remaining branches are high up, making it hard to get good photos. You can see some examples from a couple of days ago, and I have information on how to find it here.
There’s also a fall/winter-blooming variety known as the Higan cherry, and you can find them bloom now. There aren’t many of them, the trees are quite small, and they don’t tend to be as bursting with flowers as the other varieties, but you can find several in the areas around the base of the Washington Monument.
And along Potomac waterfront between the Lincoln Memorial and the 14th Street Bridge there are several weeping cherries which are blooming quite fully now.
The indicator tree is coming into full bloom now. Unfortunately, it’s not the prettiest tree, and it’s few remaining branches are too high to make for easy photos, but there are plenty of flowers on it right now.
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. These are the same branch, with the newest at top. It’s not blooming yet, but the puffy white petals are starting to poke through.
The saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle are in full bloom now and looking beautiful.
These were taken this morning.
If you’d rather not go that far (although it’s just down the street), there’s another nice grove of saucer magnolias at the George Mason Memorial, right next to the Tidal Basin.
The Tidal Basin’s parking lot by the paddle boats is now closed for the Cherry Blossom Festival Welcome Area.
Ohio Drive still has its regular traffic pattern. The roadwork that they were doing behind the John Ericsson Memorial at the Lincoln Memorial end is complete and you can use the usual entrance to Ohio Drive.
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.