DC cherry blossoms to reach peak bloom this week

After the third warmest winter on record, forecasting the peak bloom date this year was "particularly challenging," according to the National Park Service.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The peak bloom dates for the capital’s iconic, pastel pink cherry blossoms will be March 22-25, according to the National Park Service.

Peak bloom time is when 70% of the blossoms on the Yoshino Cherry trees, one of the most common species around the capital are open.

Cherry blossoms and the cherry trees they grace have grown in Washington, D.C., for over 100 years. The trees came from Japan and were gifted to the U.S. as a sign of friendship.


Over the years, the cherry trees and their blossoms have become a sign of spring in the nation’s capital – when the city trades out its red, white and blue for pastel pink.

While forecasting the peak bloom dates is an annual tradition, predicting this year’s peak bloom involved factoring in unusual weather in DC.

"Emerging from the third-warmest winter on record, this has been a particularly challenging year to read the trees and project the peak bloom," said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks of the National Park Service during a Cherry Blossom Festival press event. 

"Due to the warmer than average temperatures, the trees never reached their winter dormancy, which is the starting point for when the blooms will emerge," he noted.

Reinbold added that the indicator tree, a Yoshino cherry tree that blooms about 7-10 days before most of the other cherry trees, is currently showing different phases of blossoms. Parts of the tree had already begun to bloom in mid-February.

In addition to a warm winter, Reinbold said that variations in temperature and weather – such as 80-degree temperatures giving way to snow within 24 hours – have complicated matters. 

"All of them have effects on when the trees will bloom," he noted.


He noted that once the trees have bloomed, peaking between March 22 and 25, they may keep their blossoms for 10 days or more.

As of last weekend, the trees were close to reaching peak bloom. The National Park Service said the trees were at Stage 5 of their bloom cycle, with Stage 6 being peak bloom.