Are the conditions ripe for a ‘superbloom’ in rain-soaked California? Here’s what experts say

Is there a super bloom on the horizon? It all depends on the weather.

Californians experienced a record-breaking rainy season earlier this year, and conditions certainly appear ripe for wildflowers to bloom on the state’s water-soaked soil over the next few weeks. However, experts say that this is no guarantee of a super bloom.

The key ingredient is more rain, as the difference between a Superbloom season and a regular wildflower spring will depend on whether California gets more rain in the coming weeks.

A Superbloom is a brilliant display of vibrant color that spreads across a desert landscape or chaparral after the region has been inundated with rain. While much of California was getting record-breaking rainfall, the season could turn dry in the coming weeks, reducing the chance of exceptional blooms.

Areas where wildflowers normally bloom, such as Palmdale, Lancaster and parts of the Sonoran Desert near Palm Springs, did not experience the same deluge of rain as other parts of the state, according to the National Weather Service.

“There will be a bloom, but the question is, will it be big blooms or will it be bellies?” said Richard Minnich, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Riverside. “Belly flowers, that is, you lie on your stomach to see them because they are so small.”

Wildflowers thrive after a rainy season and especially after years of drought. Evening primrose, desert lilies and other wildflowers come to life in spring when conditions are right. But according to Minnich, there are no guarantees. In order for a seed to germinate, many variables are involved.

In recent years, poppies and deep blue lupins have flanked Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet.

Lupins, ocotillos and yellow brick bush have carpeted the desert floor near Joshua Tree National Park.

And the hills of Lake Elsinore have sung with the colorful floral displays that have hosted a flood of eco-tourists. Minnich expects some blooms in the lower San Joaquin Valley around Bakersfield.

For most of the West, orange California poppies get the most attention on Instagram and other social media sites in the brief window during a super bloom, but the actual concept is relatively new, fueled mostly by social media and attention-grabbing headlines.

Arata Sakamoto, 10, of Los Angeles, photographed on March 26, 2019 at Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

Arata Sakamoto, 10, of Los Angeles, photographs the flower-strewn hillsides at Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster on March 26, 2019.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

According to Daniel Winkler, a research ecologist with the US Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, there is no scientific definition of what constitutes a super bloom.

“The Superbloom is really a cultural phenomenon where people decide there’s just enough flowers here that we call it Superbloom,” Winkler said.

Real or not, it’s too early to tell if this year’s conditions will produce a super bloom, according to the National Park Service. But there are sprouts that are peeking through the ground and showing promise.

We’ll have to wait.

Wildflowers at lower elevations should begin blooming in mid-February to mid-April, while at higher elevations bloom from April to May and July. But again, the poppies have their own schedule. Are the conditions ripe for a ‘superbloom’ in rain-soaked California? Here’s what experts say

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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