2021 DC Cherry Blossoms
March 2021
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Connie Braceland
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Community Relations & Club 50
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2021 DC Cherry Blossoms

From the cherryblossomwatch.com's archives -- Peak Bloom was reached March 28th, 2021.
Photo by David Coleman photography, found on the website's "Cherry Blossom Photos" section. 

Some background on their "Peak Bloom Forecast:"

On average, DC’s cherry blossoms bloom around the last week of March into the first week of April. But it varies year to year based on weather conditions, so it can also be a little before or after that period. This page tracks the latest information on the coming bloom.

Warmer temperatures in the late winter into early spring bring the blossoms out earlier. Cooler temperatures push them later. The flowers generally last a week or two, but again, just how long they stay around depends on the weather.

So far this winter, the temperatures averaged a little above normal during December and January, which happens to track with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s long-range winter forecast.

But February brought a long colder stretch. So, for now, we’re tracking right around “normal” overall. And that, at this early stage, hints at a bloom that falls around the average of the last days of March into the first days of April. But it’s too soon to put any stock in that just yet–if we see a stretch of cold weather into March, it can push things much later, or a stretch of warm weather can still bring it much sooner.

March started cool but has warmed up considerably in the second week. But it won’t be enough to bring out a very early bloom like last year (when peak bloom was March 20). [See more on the cherryblossomswatch.com's website for past, present, and future peak bloom forecasts, including weather graphs!]

How Long Do the Flowers Stay Out? What if I Miss Peak Bloom?

The day the cherry blossoms reach peak bloom is not, of course, the only day you can see the flowers. At a minimum, you can expect a beautiful sight for at least a few days before the peak bloom date and at least a few days after. Sometimes they can be out for a couple of weeks.

How long they remain out depends heavily on weather conditions. In ideal conditions (cool, dry, calm), there can still be flowers to see a week or even more after the peak bloom date. So there might be a period of two weeks or more when the flowers are looking beautiful. In less-than-ideal conditions (wet, windy, hot, stormy), the flowers disappear more quickly, perhaps a week or less. I’ve put together a timeline with photos from previous years to give an idea of what you can expect to see during the different stages of the bloom. The crucial point is that you don’t have to be there precisely on that specific day to be greeted with a beautiful sight. There are still flowers to see in the days before and after that.

If you’re too early for the main cherry blossoms, your timing might be good for saucer magnolias (also called tulip magnolias). There’s a particularly beautiful collection of them in the garden behind the Smithsonian Castle, but there are plenty of others scattered around the city, including a small grove at the George Mason Memorial next to the Tidal Basin.

And if you’re too late for the Yoshino peak bloom by two or three weeks, you might be in luck for a different variety that is also very pretty: the Kwanzan cherry blossoms. Tulips are another spring highlight around the area, and you can find them at a number of places around the National Mall as well as further afield.

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