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When to Experience Peak Bloom in Washington, DC

March 6, 2024

Washington, DC is the most sought-after destination to witness the cherry blossoms during peak bloom. In case you missed my Instagram post, the National Park Service’s Bloom Watch predicted that peak bloom will occur between March 23-26!

Consisting of 12 cherry tree varieties, the iconic blooms attract more than 1.5 million visitors during the capitol’s four-week long National Cherry Blossom Festival.

The festival celebrates the friendship between Japan and the United States, as it commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,020 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to Washington, DC.

Keep reading to learn when to experience peak bloom in Washington, DC!

Photo Credit: All photos are property of Natalie Moe, with the exception of the chart and graphic by National Park Service. Erin Donahue shot the photo of Natalie Moe. Permission is required to use Natalie’s photos, please email for a usage inquiry.

Peak Bloom in Washington, DC

National Park Service’s Bloom Watch defines peak bloom as the day when 70% of the Yoshino cherry blossoms, known as Somei-Yoshino in Japan, have opened. But why specifically Yoshino cherry trees? Mostly Yoshino cherry trees line the Tidal Basin and overflow into the Washington Monument grounds. This species is known for creating the illusion of fluffy, white clouds with its single, white blossoms.

What conditions control peak bloom?

Weather conditions largely impact when Washington, DC experiences peak bloom. However, you can typically expect peak bloom to occur between the last week of March and the first week of April. In unusually warmer and colder temperatures, peak bloom occurred as early as March 15 (1990) and as late as April 18 (1958). Generally speaking, experts determine peak bloom forecasting 10 days in advance. National Park Service horticulturists closely monitor the progression and conditions of the cherry blossom buds. View National Park Service’s chart below for previous trends and when to experience peak bloom in Washington, DC.

What is the duration of peak bloom?

If weather conditions are positive, then peak bloom can last as long as 10 days. In unfortunate conditions, a late frost can prevent a bloom entirely! But generally, you can expect extended blooms with calm and consistent weather, and shortened blooms with rainy and windy weather.

When I traveled to Washington, DC for the blooms last year, I found the blooms magnificent. However, I later discovered it wasn’t a “full bloom” as some buds never blossomed due to the colder weather.

  • Yoshino and Akebono Cherry Trees
    Yoshino and Akebono cherry trees bloom at the same time. Yoshino cherry trees represent 70% of the all cherry trees in Washington, DC, and you will find most of this species at the Tidal Basin. In comparison, 100 pale-pink Akebono cherry trees are scattered throughout the white Yoshino cherry trees. The cultivation of Akebono cherry trees, a mutation of the Yoshino cherry trees, occurred in 1920.
  • Kwanazan Cherry Trees
    Two weeks after the Yoshino and Akebono blooms, you can take in the vibrant pink blooms of the Kwanazan cherry trees. These are fluffy, carnation-looking blooms. While there are Kwanzan trees by the Tidal Basin, you can witness their full existence around East Potomac Park towards Hains Point.

View all 12 cherry tree varieties in Washington, DC on the Cherry Tree Field Guide found on National Park Service’s Bloom Watch.

If this year’s cherry blossom season brings you overseas to Japan, be sure to check out my Tokyo to Mount Fuji Day Trip blog post!

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