Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 27, 2019

Many of the trees are in the puffy white stage now, and you can clearly see the white petals coming through. And more trees have at least a few flowers opening on them now, although it's still only a tiny portion of the flowers that will be coming out over the next several days.

Many of the cherry trees are in the puffy white stage now, and you can clearly see the white petals coming through. And more trees have at least a few flowers opening on them now, although it’s still only a tiny portion of the flowers that will be coming out over the next several days.

More and more flowers will come out each day into the middle of next week. With the cooler temperatures right now, it’s still a slow and steady pace, but as it warms up as we head into the weekend things will pick up. And that’s why the NPS yesterday moved up their peak bloom forecast slightly to April 1.

So the cherry blossoms should be looking lovely this weekend even if they haven’t quite hit peak bloom yet. And if you have the opportunity to go down midweek next week, they’ll be beautiful and you’ll avoid some of the crowds.

Photos and more details below.

How It’s Looking Today at the Tidal Basin

It’s a very pretty, sunny, and cool morning.

Prospects for the Weekend of April 6-7

But obviously not everyone can go during the work week, so I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the weekend of April 6-7.

The odds are good that there will still be plenty of flowers out and they’ll be looking lovely. But it’s never a sure thing because so much of it depends on the weather.

In ideal conditions (cool, calm, dry), they can last more than a week–perhaps even two. But as they move past full bloom the flowers also become more fragile, which makes them more vulnerable to rain, wind, and storms, and it’s not unheard of for them to be mostly gone in 4-6 days after the peak bloom day.

I know that this isn’t as firm an answer as you’d like, but here’s a quick example to explain the hedging. These these photos were taken at 5 days after peak bloom. The first two were in 2018:

+5 days in 2018.

+5 days in 2018.

These second two were taken 5 days after the peak bloom in 2014:

+5 days in 2014.

+5 days in 2014.

For more detailed examples, I’ve put together this photo timeline from past years showing the types of things you can expect in the days before and after peak bloom.

So there’s a good chance they’ll still be looking lovely the weekend of April 6-7, but as you can see from these photos, it’s impossible to give a firm prediction, and it’s worth going into it at least knowing of the risk that unhelpful weather can potentially have an impact.

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. As you walk around the Tidal Basin it’s easy to come across scattered flowers opening up, but it’s still only a tiny portion of what will be opening in the coming several days.

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 in full bloom now. Unfortunately, it’s not the prettiest tree and its few remaining branches are high up, making it hard to get good photos, but you can see some photos of it from two days ago here. I also have detailed 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. Here are some shots of some of those taken this morning.

Early Bloomer

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.

March 27, 2019.

March 25, 2019.

March 23, 2019.

March 19, 2019.

March 17, 2019.

Logistics

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. They haven’t implemented the special one-way restrictions yet, but I would expect them to be in place this coming weekend.

For Photographers

Very pretty sunrises at this time of year, especially with the east-west layout of the National Mall. I took these this morning.

Taken with the new Ricoh GR III.

Last updated March 27, 2019

View Comments

  • David, thank you for your updates because I've been checking it daily and obsessing over peak bloom lately! This is my boyfriend and I's first time visiting D.C. and seeing Cherry Blossoms. Unfortunately, we won't arrive until April 6. I wanted to ask a couple of questions. First, is the new date of April 1 as peak bloom pretty much set in stone or can it still move to say... April 2 or 3? How accurate are the NPS predictions at this point normally?

    I also wanted to ask if you recommend more beautiful foliage sights while we're in D.C. The Cherry Blossoms are our priority, but I'm a flower lover in general so if you know of more spots to visit, please share.

    • No, nothing is set in stone, and it's certainly possible for it to pan out differently. Right now, it's looking pretty good for Sunday or Monday, but there's nothing pre-ordained about that.

      There are lots of beautiful for spots for flowers around the area. Some personal favorites are Dumbarton Oaks, River Farm in Alexandria, and the National Arboretum. The warmth might bring out more tulips by then, but they're mostly lagging a little right now. If so, there are lots of nice spots for tulips, including the Floral Library right next to the Tidal Basin (not much to see there yet though). Some more ideas here.

      • Thank you so much for the suggestions! I’m crossing my fingers that the Cherry Blossoms will hold out and look gorgeous when we arrive on 4/6.

  • Hello! Thank you for posting such a thorough guide! I was wondering based on today's pictures would there be enough blooms to drive to DC from Baltimore to see tomorrow? Or is it unlikely that they will have blossomed by tomorrow?

    • Today is still pretty cool, so for now it's slow and steady. You can find some out now, but as you can see from the photos, it's still only a tiny percentage. It probably won't be until the warm temperatures of Friday and Saturday that they really start popping. I hope to post another update early-ish tomorrow morning. If you're on Instagram, keep an eye on the stories (@cherryblossomwatch)--I'll try to remember to post some quick video clips directly from onsite.

      • Thank you, I will definitely check on instagram in the morning then! Unfortunately heading out of town before the weekend, so hoping to catch some tomorrow!

  • Hi David, We are headed out today from Wisconsin with our 15 year old twins and would like to thank you for your very informative site! My daughter is particularly interested in whether she’ll have some nice photos with the flowers to post to social media this weekend. Thanks to your reporting we know where to look now - also I’ll be sure to hike over to the Lincoln Memorial and sunrise and capture the gorgeous lighting!

    • While it doesn't look like they'll be fully out yet over the weekend, you won't have much trouble finding some for photos. While you can find some pretty easily already, don't be discouraged if you head down today or tomorrow--the warm temperatures later in the week will turn up the volume and make many more of them pop. When it's warm, there can be quite a change even in a day.

  • ... & how about the coming weekend? I am thinking of taking to trip to DC 3/30. Would it be worth it, or should I rather visit the next weekend (4/6)? Unfortunately I can't do mid week, even thought I would have loved that the most.
    and Sir, thank you for your articles. These are a great source of information... :)

    • It's shaping up nicely for this weekend. It might also still be looking beautiful the following weekend, although there is some risk that rain or wind might impact.

  • Hi, if you had a choice between going to see the blossoms this Friday versus next Friday, which would you choose for the best viewing? Thanks!

    • I'd probably choose the following Friday because there's a good chance of even more flowers out and them starting to turn pink, but that does mean accepting some risk that rain/wind can have an impact.

  • Hi. I am a hobbyist and would like to know if its safe to go after 8pm to photograph the blossoms along the Tidal Basin? I like doing night photography and was hoping to give it a try this weekend to early next week. Let me know your thoughts!

    • I personally have no hesitation being there at that time or much later, and I've always been amazed at how safe the area is. That said, depending on where you area, it can be deserted and it's somewhat remote, so you'll want to be aware of your surroundings and use your own personal safety radar. There's nearly always a security guard or NPS staff member in the Jefferson Memorial, and there are probably some stationed at the Welcome Area (the parking lot next to the paddle boats) overnight. There should be plenty of people at the Jefferson Memorial even quite late, and to a lesser extent at the MLK Memorial. I have more on shooting at night here.

    • I mean that more in a non-weekend sense. They should be looking beautiful throughout the work week. I personally like them a couple of days after peak bloom, when they're in full bloom and starting to shift pink (peak bloom, after all, means that 70 percent are in full bloom, leaving a good portion still to come).

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