All plants need water to stay alive and an essential tool to provide them this is a watering can. It can be one of the most important items in a gardener's arsenal and helps us be selective about the amount of water we provide our favourite plants.
Not only are watering cans simple to use they are far less wasteful than using a hose and allow us to target exactly where we wish our water to go. Despite this relative simplicity watering cans can vary from model to model and with hundreds on the market it can be difficult to choose the right one for your needs.
To help you navigate the many watering cans available we’ve put together this list of our 12 favourite watering cans. We’ve got everything from large cans to indoor, and traditional ones to tiny ones. We’ve also answered some key questions that can help you choose whether you’d prefer a metal or plastic watering can, how to water your plants properly and key things to look for in a watering can.
For more watering tools, see our reviews of the best plant misters, best garden hoses and best garden spray guns, as well as our guide to buying the best pressure washer. Alternatively, take a look at our picks of the best water butts, bird baths and solar water features.
The best watering cans in 2023
Our pick of the best watering cans 2023:
Ward 10L Watering Can
For watering on a budget, check out the Ward watering can. This deceptively simple can has a couple of useful features. We love the measures along the side, so you can water precisely, as well as the rose storage, which makes it easy to switch between sprinkling plants and a full flow.
More like this
Garden Trading 10L Galvanised Watering Can
This simple watering can is all you need to keep your plants well-watered. Made of hard-wearing galvanised steel, with a brass rose, it holds up to 10 litres. You can also buy it in 1.5- and 5-litre capacities if you have a smaller space.
Haws Bearwood Brook Green Two Gallon Watering Can
Haws is a big name in watering cans, and for good reason. Handmade in Smethwick, this galvanised steel watering can is powder-coated in attractive British racing green and comes with a brass rose. All Haws products have a fantastic 10-year guarantee, and the company has been known to still restore products more than fifty years old. This model holds up to two gallons, or 9L in new money.
Kent & Stowe 9L Long Reach Watering Can
If you struggle to water hanging baskets or the back of deep flower beds, this long-reach watering can might be the one for you. Made from powder-coated galvanised steel, the long arm will help you water all your plants evenly, without treading on your flower beds or veg patch.
Burgon and Ball Waterfall 5L Watering Can
We love the long arm on this galvanised steel can as well as the one-piece round handle, so it’s easy to use with one or two hands. The rose screws on to ensure a tight fit with no water wasted, and the can has a good five-year warranty.
Kent And Stowe 4.5L Metal Watering Can
This 4.5L watering can from Kent and Stowe is just right for country-style gardens. It has a copper coloured rose and a folding top handle for easy storage, but if you forget to put it away after use, this attractive cream can will still look great on the patio.
Garden Trading 1.9L Indoor Watering Can
For a high-quality indoor watering can, check out the Garden Trading 1.9L watering can. Offering a large capacity in chalk or stone, this attractive galvanised steel can will help keep your plants healthy for years.
Elho Brussels 1.8L Watering Can
Made from recycled plastic, the Elho Brussels can has a great 1.8L capacity. Its small spout is ideal for targeted watering, and it has a large filling hole too, so it’s easy to top up from kitchen and bathroom taps.
Haws Indoor Plastic 700ml Watering Can
This plastic watering can delivers Haws’ upmarket aesthetic at a lower price. Holding 700ml, it’s great for nipping around the house and keeping your plants topped up, and will look great alongside them on a shelf.
Burgon and Ball 700ml Indoor Watering Can
For a simple but attractive watering can, check out the Burgon and Ball Indoor watering can. The handle is made of sustainable FSC beech, and the thin spout is just right for gently watering plants. It’s also available in charcoal, stone, or blue.
Ward Woodstock 1L Indoor Watering Can
If you’re on a budget, try the Ward Woodstock watering can. This small 1L can is ideal for keeping out on kitchen surfaces so you don’t forget to water herbs.
Elho Plunge 1.7L Indoor Watering Can
We love the ingenious design of the Elho Plunge because it’s a watering can disguised as a vase. It also offers a capacity of 1.7 litres, so it’s great if you’ve got a lot of plants to water.
The type of watering can you need depends on your plants and their location.
To water plants growing outside in borders or large pots, you'll need a watering can with a capacity of around 10 litres to help you water everything efficiently, without having to constantly refill.
If you struggle to carry heavier watering cans, choose a smaller option, but bear in mind it will mean more refills at the garden tap. Plastic cans are lighter than metal ones, but you may prefer a metal watering can for environmental or aesthetic reasons.
If you’re caring for plants inside your home or greenhouse you're unlikely to need a large watering can, and a capacity of around four litres should be enough. Indoor watering cans are more likely to be on show than those used in the garden and are often designed with appearance in mind. There are lots of colours, materials and styles to choose from, with designs catering to personal aesthetics as well as practical needs.
For Tropical plants that love humidity a mister is the way to go. These little bottles usually have a capacity of 300-600ml and spray with a mist to simulate humid rainforest conditions.
Wherever you're watering there are a number of features to consider:
- A watering can with a long spout is useful for watering high places such as hanging baskets and tricky spots like the far side of a flower bed.
- A watering can sprinkler - or ‘rose’ - over the spout helps distribute a gentle spray of water that's less likely to damage plants or disturb compost, and is most useful for watering seedlings, cuttings and very young plants.
- Roses come with differently sized holes so you can choose the best spray to suit your plants. A universal rose tends to be made of rubber and should fit most cans, whereas brass roses are crafted to fit individual watering cans.
To water established plants in containers, flower beds and vegetable patches use a can without a rose and water plants individually, aiming the spout around the base of the plants towards the roots. Give them a good soak so that water penetrates deep into the soil to encourage plants to root deeply. In summer, try to water in the early morning or late evening so that precious water doesn’t evaporate in the heat of the day.
Many house plants should be watered at the base, to avoid splashing their leaves and so water is targeted directly at their roots. However, carnivorous plants need damp roots, and cacti, succulents and cyclamen are prone to rotting at the base of the stems, so should be watered from below, either by standing them in a sink of water or watering the saucer they're standing in.
For more on this, check out this fascinating discussion between Arit Anderson and water expert Janet Manning on the BBC Gardeners’ World podcast.
Is a metal watering can better than a plastic one?
If you’re picking between a metal watering can and a plastic one, they both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the choice between both will depend on your preferences, budget, and specific gardening requirements. We’ve compared them below so you can make a more informed decision regarding which watering can you want to buy.
Metal watering cans
When it comes to metal watering cans you can count on them as durable and stable options. They are often preferred for their aesthetics and generally last longer than plastic models. They can withstand exposure to sunlight, temperature changes, and rough handling without deteriorating as quickly.
They are typically heavier and more stable, which can help prevent them from tipping over when filled with water. This stability is especially useful if you're watering delicate plants that could be easily damaged by accidental spills.
Metal watering cans often have a classic and attractive design and come in various finishes such as brass, copper, or galvanised steel, offering a vintage or decorative look. Unlike plastic, metal watering cans are not affected by UV rays, so they won't degrade or become brittle over time due to sun exposure.
On the flip side, the durability of metal comes with the trade-off of increased weight. They are usually more expensive than their plastic counterparts due to the higher cost of materials and manufacturing process required to make them.
And while many metal watering cans are treated to resist rust, over time, they might still develop rust spots if the coating gets scratched or if they are not properly dried after use.
Plastic watering cans
Plastic watering cans are much lighter than metal ones, making them easier to carry, especially when filled with water. They are generally more budget-friendly, which can be a significant factor if you're just starting out gardening or have limited funds.
They also come in a wide range of colours and styles, allowing you to choose one that matches your preferences or garden décor. They are easy to clean, don’t rust, and don’t require the same level of care and attention as metal cans to prevent corrosion.
However, plastic watering cans are more susceptible to wear and tear over time, especially with prolonged exposure to sunlight and changing weather conditions. They can become brittle and crack as they age.
UV exposure can also cause plastic to fade and become less attractive over time, affecting the overall appearance of your watering can.
Overall, a metal watering can is likely a better choice if you prioritise durability, stability, and aesthetics, and are willing to invest a bit more money. On the other hand, a plastic watering can is a more cost-effective and lightweight option that provides greater variety in terms of design.
This product guide was last updated in September 2023. We apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.