WASHINGTON — The flower buds on the Tidal Basin’s famed Yoshino cherry trees are kicking into second gear. The green florets of the flowers are beginning to appear as the buds enter stage two of their journey toward peak bloom.
“We’ve gone 18 days since we have reached that green bud stage — that’s considerably longer than we are used to seeing,” said Mike Litterst with the National Park Service.
The last time stage one lasted this long was in 2008, when the buds didn’t show green for 21 days. The average duration of this stage is around five days, Litterst said.
The cold weather in February and now March has slowed the blooming process down for the cherry trees, and Litterst said without temperatures in the 60s or 70s in the forecast, this stage could be a long one as well.
“I don’t think based on what we’re looking at on the 10-day forecast that we’re gonna rush into stage three,” Litterst said.
Stage three for the cherry blossom is when the florets begin to extend.
For the National Park Service, peak bloom is a moving target each year. In fact, the original prediction on peak bloom was delayed earlier this year.
Now, between March 27 and March 31 is when people can expect to see the blossoms in all their splendor — that is unless Mother Nature has a surprise or two more up her sleeve.
“I think that’s one of the things that makes the Cherry Blossom Festival and cherry blossom time so exciting, because you don’t know when it’s gonna be,” Litterst said.
The opening ceremony for the National Cherry Blossom Festival has changed from Saturday, March 24 to Sunday, March 25, but that has more to do with anticipated crowds for the upcoming March for Our Lives event than the blooms.
UPDATE: The National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony is now rescheduled for Sunday, 3/25, due to anticipated crowds expected in DC for the March for Our Lives on 3/24. Ticket holders, please check your email for further information.
— The Official NCBF 🌸 (@CherryBlossFest) March 17, 2018