The Best Watering Cans for Indoor and Outdoor Gardening
Whether your garden is indoors or out, the right watering can will help you deliver the right amount of water, right where you need it.
For your “green thumb” endeavors indoors and out—tasks as varied as houseplant watering, seed starting, and container garden maintenance—you’ll want a watering can that delivers the right amount of water, right where you need it.
Though the watering can is a straightforward piece of equipment, there’s much to consider when adding one to your garden tool collection. In order to be truly useful over the years, your watering can must provide adequate capacity for your needs. In addition, the water-delivery system of your chosen watering can must match up with how you intend to use it. Further considerations include material composition and weight, because a watering can that rusts out within a year, or one that you cannot comfortably carry, won’t do you much good.
Ahead, learn what to look for as you navigate the available watering can options and to find out why we’ve chosen the following as our favorites.
- BEST ALL AROUND: Behrens 2-Gallon Steel Watering Can
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Rainmaker Watering Can
- BEST FOR INDOORS: MyLifeUNIT Plastic Watering Can
Key Shopping Considerations
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. For example, houseplants benefit from a single spout that delivers water in a straight stream directly to the soil. If you were to use the same spout on seedlings that require a gentler approach, you’d likely uproot the delicate plants or snap their stems. Consider a longer spout when you want to extend your reach, like across a planting bed or for houseplants in hard-to-reach places.
Water weighs a lot, so the bigger the watering can, the heavier it will be when full. It’s important to determine just how much water you can carry and what capacity will serve your needs. The added heft of a larger watering can means fewer trips to the faucet for refills, but it’s probably overkill when you’re watering just a few houseplants. Most watering cans hold between 1 and 2 gallons of water. Those on the smaller end are ideal for houseplants, and larger capacity watering cans are best for establishing newly planted shrubs, flowers, and seedlings.
Lightweight and durable, plastic watering cans never rust and will last indefinitely provided 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. For gardeners looking for a more vintage look, galvanized steel cans, though heavier than plastic, will not rust like their tin counterparts. When not in use, a galvanized can looks good no matter where the gardener leaves it. Consider a copper or brass watering can that will double as a piece of décor when not in use. Copper cans develop a lovely patina as they age.
One-piece construction is a great selling point for 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 prevents leaking as you take a full watering can away from the tap or as you’re moving from plant to plant.
One vs. Two Handles
The best watering can will be 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, like those with capacities less than 1 gallon, often have a single handle.
Our Top Picks
BEST ALL AROUND: Behrens 2-Gallon Steel Watering Can
Made from recycled materials, the Behrens 2-Gallon Steel Watering Can galvanized steel watering can has a vintage look made to stand the test of time. It holds a lot of water and won’t rust no matter how or where you store it. The watering can has a wide sprinkle pattern that’s emitted from the non-removable 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.
BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Rainmaker Watering Can
At 3.2 gallons, the Rainmaker Watering Can has the largest capacity of all the watering cans on our list. Though ideal for watering newly planted trees and shrubs, bear in mind that it’s not easy to carry three gallons of water; what you save in trips back and forth to the faucet, you pay for with physical exertion. The plastic can is lightweight and comes with a removable rosette at the end of the spout that makes it easy to switch between showering and pouring. Its two-handle design for transporting and flow control takes the pressure off hands and wrists, which is especially important when the can is filled to capacity.
BEST FOR INDOORS: MyLifeUNIT Plastic Watering Can
If you’re looking for something lightweight and sleek, the MyLifeUNIT Plastic Watering Can can be ideal for home or office. An arched, narrow spout delivers water directly to the roots of houseplants without leaking as you move from plant to plant. Available in several colors, the plastic can holds a half-gallon of water and is easy to hold and tilt with a curved handle that fits one hand or both. At just 7 inches wide at the base, the can is perfect for small-space storage but attractive enough to leave out at the office.