Whether your green thumb involves caring for houseplants or young seedlings that prefer not to be drowned by a blast from a garden hose, it’s important to deliver the right amount of water. A watering can helps make it easier to adjust the amount of water delivered, and it’s a handy way to carry water to indoor plants and outdoor containers that require regular watering.
A suitable watering can will have the right capacity, construction, weight, and water delivery system to make caring for your plants as easy and comfortable as possible.
Read on for tips on choosing the best watering can for your home, and to find out why these models are some of the best on the market.
- BEST FOR INDOORS: MyLifeUNIT Plastic Watering Can
- BEST FOR OUTDOORS: Behrens 2-Gallon Steel Watering Can
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: WhaleLife Indoor Watering Can
- BEST CAPACITY: Rainmaker HGC708916 Watering Can
- ERGONOMIC PICK: Novelty Indoor Watering Can
- BEST MINI: Fasmov 13.5 Oz Stainless Steel Watering Can
- BEST FOR DISPLAY: Homarden 40 oz Copper Colored Watering Can
- BEST FOR KIDS: Green Toys Watering Can Toy
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Watering Can
Watering your plants, garden beds, and flowers doesn’t have to feel like a full-body workout. The right watering can may help. In addition to size and weight, whether you want a one- or two-handle can, the types of flowers and plants being watered, and the amount of water they need will play key roles when looking for the best watering cans.
Size and Weight
Water weighs a lot, so the bigger the watering can, the heavier it will be when full. It’s important to determine how much water you can carry and what capacity will serve your needs. The added heft of a larger watering can mean fewer trips to the faucet for refills, but it’s probably overkill when watering just a few houseplants.
Most watering cans hold between 1 and 2 gallons. Those on the smaller end are ideal for houseplants, and larger capacity watering cans are best for establishing newly planted shrubs, flowers, and seedlings.
Different sized watering cans also are helpful for fertilizing plants to keep them flowering throughout the growing season. Mixing the fertilizer in a watering can according to the product instructions delivers food and hydration directly to plant roots.
Watering cans are available in different materials and vary in functionality—some are decorative in style while others are more practical. Also, if strictly watering an indoor garden, something that rusts over time may not be an issue.
- Plastic: Lightweight and durable, plastic watering cans never rust and can last indefinitely if they’re not stored in direct sunlight. Ultraviolet rays degrade plastic, which can lead to cracking and weakening of the watering can. They also tend to be less expensive than metal watering cans.
- Galvanized steel: For gardeners looking for a more vintage look, galvanized steel cans offer a nice rustic aesthetic. Though heavier than plastic, it will not rust like some metals.
- Stainless steel: A stainless steel watering can offers durability, and it will not rust. It also is heavier than other options.
- Aluminum: This is a type of sheet metal pot that comes in standard sizes, mainly used for indoor watering and small nursery gardens. Aluminum will not rust and is roughly one-third lighter than steel.
- Copper and brass: While copper can develop a lovely patina as it ages and corrodes less quickly than other materials, it will eventually need to be replaced. It’s best to visually check the inside of copper watering cans every so often to look for evidence of corrosion, which is turquoise coloring.
- Glass: Functional and decorative, glass watering cans definitely won’t rust. They can be considered attractive options, but they are breakable.
- Stoneware: Strong and durable stoneware watering cans come in various colors and patterns. Like glass and ceramic, stoneware will break relatively easily if dropped on a hard surface. With careful handling, it can last indefinitely.
- Ceramic: Because ceramic is made at lower temperatures than stoneware, it’s not quite as durable. It may chip more easily and break if dropped. Ceramic watering cans are made in a range of colors and patterns to add a little extra flourish to gardening chores.
How a watering can delivers water is an important consideration. Some pour, others sprinkle, and some include a feature at the end of the spout called a rosette that makes it easy to switch between the two.
Most houseplants benefit from a single spout that delivers water in a straight stream directly to the soil. Using the same spout on seedlings that require a gentler approach may likely uproot the delicate plants or snap their stems. Consider a longer spout when you want to extend a reach, like across a planting bed or for houseplants in hard-to-reach places.
One vs. Two Handles
Ideally, a watering can should feel comfortable to hold and operate. With larger capacity cans, a two-handle design is especially helpful for water-flow control. It also takes the strain off hands and wrists. Gardeners can use the top handle for carrying the can and the lower handle to assist in pouring to get just the right flow.
Some large cans have a single continuous handle that curves from the top of the can to the back near the base to support two-handed pouring. Smaller cans often have a single handle.
One-piece construction is a great feature of plastic watering cans because there are no seams for water to leak through. Cans like this are molded from one continuous piece of plastic. Conversely, any non-galvanized metal can is more likely to rust and ultimately leak.
A curved spout is important if the watering can will be used for houseplants. This helps prevent leaking while filling up at the tap or while moving from plant to plant.
Our Top Picks
There are many features to consider when shopping for a watering can. To help make it easier, below is a list of some of the best options on the market. From antique-looking galvanized steel to modern glass designs, take a look at these attractive high-quality watering cans.
If you’re looking for something lightweight and sleek for indoors, check out this option from MyLifeUNIT. Here, a narrow, arched spout delivers water directly to the roots of houseplants while helping to prevent leaking.
Able to hold ½ gallon of water, this can is easy to hold and, thanks to its curved handle, it’s easy to tilt as well. With a base that’s just 7 inches wide, this can is quite petite and can be stored away easily when not in use, though it’s attractive enough to be left out on a table surface or window sill.
- Narrow spout for watering small plants
- Lightweight, but holds ½ gallon of water
- Curved handle for easy pouring
- Small enough to store in home or office
- Frequent refills needed to water large plants
From Behrens, this galvanized steel watering can has a timeless look, and it is built to last using recyclable materials. It holds a lot of water, too—2 gallons. Suitable for watering plants both indoors and out, the Behrens won’t rust no matter how or where it’s stored.
This 13-inch-tall watering can has a wide sprinkle pattern that’s emitted from the nonremovable rosette at the end of the spout. Handles at the top of the can and opposite the spout make it easy to carry and control water flow.
- Galvanized steel holds up better than plastic
- Will not rust
- Constructed from recycled materials
- Holds 2.5 gallons of water
- Wide sprinkle pattern can cause spilling or waste
- Top handle not very durable, but there’s a second handle on back
At 3.2 gallons, the Rainmaker has the largest capacity of all the watering cans on this list. Despite its size, it features lightweight plastic construction, with a removable rosette at the end of the spout that makes it easy to switch between showering and pouring.
The two-handled design takes the pressure off hands and wrists, which is especially important when the can is filled to capacity. This watering can is ideal for use with newly planted trees and shrubs.
- Affordable, sturdy watering can for indoor gardens
- Long and narrow spout reaches into small plants
- Transparent design shows water level inside
- Attractive and comes in eight color choices
- Holds only ⅓ gallon of water
- Too small for use on large indoor or outdoor plants
This inexpensive watering can from WhaleLife holds a ⅓ gallon of water and features a transparent design that allows users to see the current water level. The long-stem spout can sneak past foliage and find the base of the plant to ensure water gets where it’s needed most.
Ideal for indoor plants such as bonsai and succulents, this watering can’s fluid lines and chic aesthetic bring a tough of character to this firm, robust, and durable helpmate.
- Heavy-duty, durable design
- Holds 3.2 gallons of water
- Removable rosette switches between shower or pour patterns
- Two-handle design adds control and helps hold its heft
- Heavy for some gardeners when full
- Not the most attractive design
Comfortably water all day long using this watering can designed for ease of use. It has a long ergonomic handle that users can move their hands along while water drains from the can. Both hands can fit on the handle if needed during the pour, and it’s easy to find a comfortable spot while carrying.
Made with shatterproof recycled plastic, this durable watering can is both UV- and frost-resistant. The small spout opening lets the user control the water flow, and the long stem can reach plants in difficult-to-access spots in and out of the home. This can holds 1 gallon of water and helpfully, it is embossed with water-capacity measurements.
- Long-handle design for ergonomic hand movement
- Supports one or two hands for good control
- Made of shatterproof recycled plastic to resist damage
- Large holes for easy refilling
- Holds only 1 gallon of water
Lacks sturdy construction; might not hold up to heavy use
This 13.5-ounce watering can sports a modern look with its stainless steel construction and side indentations that add to its elegance. It won’t scratch, tarnish, or corrode, and it’s ideal for indoor use.
The Fasmov has a long and thin spout that makes it best to get water right to the base of smaller plants like cacti, succulents, bonsai, and other small houseplants. The ergonomic handle has a balanced design for easy pouring.
With a diameter of only 4 inches, Fasmov’s small-but-mighty watering can is highly portable and easily maneuverable, making it a handy option for homes with just a few plants or in spaces with houseplants that would be difficult to reach with a full-size watering can.
- Made of premium stainless steel
- Sleek, modern look that doubles as indoor decor
- Long, narrow spout directs water to base of plants
- Ergonomic handle and balanced design
- Holds only 13.5 ounces of water
Pretty enough to display on a bookshelf or table, Homarden’s watering can combines form and function. At just 15 inches long and 8 inches tall, this watering can has a 1.3-liter capacity and is ideal for watering small houseplants.
Copper-colored paint covers the Homarden’s stainless steel construction for a charming look. Only note that while the can is able to be used to water both indoor and outdoor plants, it should be stored indoors to help prevent rusting.
- Copper finish adds a decorative touch
- Holds 40 ounces of water
- Long, narrow spout directs water to base of plants
- Long handle and spout are easy to control
- More costly than less attractive watering cans
- Should be stored indoors only
Invite the kids into the garden and join them as they learn and have fun. Safe for little ones to use, these gardening tools from Green Toys include a watering can, a rake, and a shovel that are free from BPA, phthalates, and PVC. They also meet all FDA food contact standards. The tools also can be used at the beach for a different kind of outdoor playtime. To clean the tools, simply throw them in the dishwasher.
For grown-ups who prefer sustainable products, the tools are made of 100 percent recycled plastic milk jugs, and the packaging is made with recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks.
- Entire set encourages kids to garden
- Safe for kids and BPA-free
- Made from recycled milk jugs
- Ergonomic design for easy kid-size control
- More costly as a set
- Holds only a pint or so of water
Plant lovers can use a few watering cans to help their green “children” get plenty to drink. The best watering can won’t weigh too much, allows for two-handed pouring, and has a spout that matches the job for which it’s needed. Watering cans for outdoor plants should be sturdy, durable, and hold enough water to avoid frequent refills at the faucet, like the Behrens 2-Gallon Steel Watering Can.
For an indoor garden, a watering can’s capacity matters less than ease of use and how well the spout directs water where the plant (not the carpet) needs it. The MyLifeUNIT Plastic Watering Can is both ergonomic and controllable. It helps if an indoor watering can looks great, too, so it can double as decor in a home or office. The copper finish on the Homarden 40-ounce Watering Can looks as good as it works.
How We Chose the Best Watering Can
A durable material and strong build ensure that a watering can holds its water and doesn’t leak after a few uses. We looked at material for watering cans that can be used indoors, outdoors, or both. Plastic works indoors or out, but steel holds up better to the elements.
Of course, some materials weigh more than others, and a can that holds 3 gallons of water or more can get heavy, so we considered that balance between capacity and heft for various garden uses. And the can should not leak!
Handles and spouts matter plenty, not just in how a watering can looks, but also in how easy it is to carry, pour, and control flow of water. For indoor gardens, we looked at cans with long, narrow spouts to direct water only where it’s needed, and we considered the handle design for ergonomics and control. Long-handled and two-handled cans are easier to maneuver.
Now that you know more about watering cans, there may be some new questions popping up. For more information, check out these answers to some common queries. For other questions, contact the manufacturer.
Q. Why should I use a watering can?
A watering can lets you direct the water and control its flow. For certain plants or seedlings outdoors, a hose can be too strong and can cause damage. For an indoor garden with plants like succulents or cacti, a cup could make a mess. A long spout on a watering can helps direct the pour to the base of the plant for better watering without getting water outside of the pot. Different types of watering cans have various functions that help in keeping plants and flowers beautiful.
Q. How big is a standard watering can?
Most watering cans hold between 1 and 2 gallons of water.
Q. Are plastic or metal watering cans better?
Choosing plastic or metal depends on your particular needs and likes as both can last and get the job done. Plastic watering cans are lightweight and durable—they never rust and will last indefinitely provided they’re not stored in direct sunlight. They also tend to be less expensive than metal watering cans.
Galvanized steel, stainless steel, and aluminum metal watering cans will not rust, but they will be heavier than plastic watering cans. Aluminum is the lightest of the three. Copper and brass watering cans will rust, but they can be used as decor when not in use.
Q. How do I choose a watering can?
Choosing a watering can depends on what needs to be watered and whether you’re using it for indoor or outdoor plants. Also, deciding how much you can carry is a factor. If the can is large, you may not be able to fill it without it becoming too heavy. For those who can only pour using both hands, you may want a long handle that curves up. All of these factors will help you decide which is the best watering can for you.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today in the expert yet accessible home advice at the heart of BobVila.com. Today, the Bob Vila editorial team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Heather Blackmore is an award winning writer and photographer specializing in gardening, health, and family. Her work has appeared on Good Morning America as well as in several regional and national publications including Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Chicagoland Gardening, Farmers’ Almanac, and Chicago Tribune. She also contributes weekly to her blog, Here She Grows, where she shares the highs and lows in her suburban Chicago garden. Heather and her husband are currently weathering the storm of two teenage daughters and one attention-hungry dog named Stella.