February 21, 2023 /
Christina Hester

Let’s Talk About the Cherry Trees

Cherry trees all over the District, including what The National Park Service refers to DC’s indicator tree, are already starting to show flower buds (this is the first stage before the bloom). While it could just mean an early peak bloom, it could also be indicating towards a record-breaking early bloom this year. Read on to learn more about the cherry trees of DC, why they’re blooming so early, and how you can get paid to plant select species of Cherry trees in your yard.

The blooming of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC has come to symbolize the natural beauty of our nation’s capital city. But in the trees’ homeland of Japan, the tradition of viewing the cherry blossoms, known as ‘hanami,’ dates back more than 1,200 years! The name says it all – hana means “flower” and mi is “to look”.

Our famous trees, a gift of Japan in 1912, signal Washington’s beginning of spring with an explosion of life and color that surrounds the Tidal Basin in a sea of pale pink and white blossoms. Cherry tree blooming provides an unmatched backdrop to our city. Thousands flock to see their delicate blooms and Yoshino cherry petals are often listed among DC’s symbols.

But normally, we aren’t talking about our wonderful cherry trees this early. As much as we can all appreciate sunnier days, this winter has been continuously warmer than what this area has seen in the past. This January is the third warmest EVER recorded in DC, and the warmest the month has been since 1950.

Because of climate change, our average winter temperature has risen by about 3 degrees since 1970, making the winter season in this region warmer and shorter. This affects local plants and trees by sending them into an early bloom – which can also cause seasonal allergies to start showing sooner, so be ready!

While we still have some time before cherry trees go into peak bloom, don’t be caught off guard when it happens sooner rather than later. Or you can always plant a cherry tree in your yard and never worry about missing the memo again! There is something to be said about appreciating the beauty of a singular cherry tree providing a burst of blooms and color along a city block or alongside a rowhouse. Thanks to our Tree Rebate program, when you bring some of the springtime magic from the Mall to your District property, you get money back!

Okame Cherry | Prunus x "Okame"*+

Okame Cherry | Prunus x “Okame”*+

Flowering much earlier than other cherries, the okame cherry displays carmine-pink blossoms in the late winter or early spring. Deep green foliage in the spring and summer turns to a stunning bronze in the fall. The okame cherry needs full sun and can grow to a height of 25 feet. You can get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself through our tree rebate program.





Yoshino Cherry | Prunus x yedoenis

Yoshino Cherry | Prunus x yedoenis

Of all the flowering cherries, the yoshino is perhaps the most famous in DC, adorning the Tidal Basin and other monuments. This small tree blooms in spring, has a wide and open crown with beautiful white-to-pink flowers and leaves that turn orange-red in the fall. Yoshino Cherries rarely reach 30 feet tall and require full sun. Get up to $50 back for planting this tree through our tree rebate program.