Watering cans let you nurture plants in places where using a hose is impractical or awkward. A good watering can’s long spout can enable you to reach high hanging baskets from secure footing, and to water plants on the ground without bending or stooping. A well-designed watering can be filled from any available water source—a hose spigot, a kitchen sink, or a low-profile half-bath hand-washing faucet—making it convenient to keep your plants happy.
The best watering cans are easy to fill from any water source, so you can use them indoors or out, and they’re easy to carry one-handed without cutting into your hand or leaving a wet trail behind you. Most importantly, the best watering cans empty completely and predictably through the spout, not over the tops or sides.
We tested 13 watering cans at bathroom faucets and outdoor garden hoses, carrying them up and down lawns and driveways to water ground-level seedlings, deck plantings, and hanging baskets.
For plant-lovers who need to carry a lot of water around, the Cado 63065 Watering Can(available at Amazon) was the Best Overall for holding, carrying, and pouring water. For small-scale watering of tiny hanging plants, we recommend the Homarden Copper-Colored Watering Can (available at Amazon) as the Best Small Watering Can because it’s lightweight, easy to handle, and handsome enough to display along with your favorite foliage.
Here are the best watering cans we tested, ranked in order:
Cado 63065 Watering Can
Homarden Copper-Colored Watering Can
Bloem JW82PROMO-42 Watering Can
Novelty 30601 Indoor Watering Can
Layboo Long Spout Watering Can
Fasmov Stainless Steel Watering Can
Umbra Stainless Steel Quench Watering Can
Best Choice Products SKY4191 Watering Can
Nobondo Watering Can
Bloem Aqua Rite JW41-23 Watering Can
Ufanme Watering Can
Behrens 208 Steel Watering Can
Kensington London Indoor Watering Can
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The Cado 63065 2-gallon watering pot is a workhorse. Even when its water level is at a full 2 gallons, the Cado doesn’t leak, dribble, or slosh over when carried or poured. The removable watering rose produces a gentle spray that is perfect for watering seedlings and delicate leaves. When pouring from hip height, the medium, 1-inch radius of the spray at ground level is perfect for small-scale watering.
The double handles make this can easy to carry and easy to control. Use this can to tote serious quantities of water to plants you can’t reach with a hose. You could water your entire deck or patio full of plants in one trip with this watering can, from water-hogging trees to tiny new plantings.
The Homarden Copper-Colored Watering Can is perfect for precise watering of small hanging pots and plants. Holding just over a quart (40 oz.) of water, the Homarden is feather-light (1 pound, unfilled) and easy to hoist high overhead—and it won’t drip or spill onto you from above.
The low-profile can’s offset top opening is large enough to fill at a bathroom faucet, but positioned far enough back so water doesn’t slop over when you turn the can far forward to water ground-level plants.
The Homarden’s long, narrow spout makes it easy to get water to hard-to-reach spots, and the wrap-around handle makes it possible to grip and pour from any angle. The sleek, modern design and copper exterior makes it a potential display piece, especially with dark-green leaves.
I’m Meg Muckenhoupt, a garden writer and reviewer. I’ve been digging up yards for more than 25 years, and along the way I co-founded a community farm and earned a certificate in field botany. I’ve grown everything from radishes to rosemary from seed, and I maintain a small rose garden and a native plant meadow outdoors as well as an indoor plant menagerie that includes a 20-foot tall avocado tree I grew from a pit.
We tested these watering cans by filling, carrying, and emptying them under a range of everyday conditions. While plant misters and spray bottles can be useful for plant owners, we opted to test only the traditional watering cans with spouts and handles.
Each can was filled at a hose, at a kitchen sink, and under a bathroom faucet (if it was possible), then carried by a handle outside and across a backyard.
The watering cans were used to water plants on the ground, flower boxes attached to a deck railing, and hanging planters a foot above the tester’s head.
Finally, the cans were filled and left to sit for an hour undisturbed to detect the kind of subtle, slow leak that can damage wood and upholstery.
How to Choose the Right Watering Can
Watering cans hold quantities ranging from ounces to gallons, and they vary by material and design. Depending on exactly how you’re going to use your watering can, you may opt for a can with a rose or a narrow spout, high or low volume, and made of plastic or metal.
Choose the Spout that Works for Your Plants
Rose spouts make it easier to water delicate plants without damaging them. If you’re watering young, tender-leaved plants, opt for a watering can with a removable rose attachment to sprinkle your seedlings safely. Avoid cans with permanently attached roses; they can easily clog with debris.
Cans with spouts that attach at the bottom are easier to empty. Spouts that attach above the base cannot be emptied in a single easy pour because water gets stuck in the space under the spout. You’ll need to tip the base of the can back and forth a few times to get the last few ounces of liquid out. This means that most gardeners leave water in the can, inviting bugs, mold, and mildew.
Long spouts are great for hanging plants and succulents because they can get water to tight spots high over your head, or direct it down to the roots of water-shy succulents instead of sprinkling the tops of their leaves.
Consider Your Fill Station
Larger holes mean easy filling, easy spilling. When you’re buying a watering can, think about where you’re going to fill it up, and how far you’re going to carry it. The larger the top opening, the easier the can will be to fill up at small sinks—but big openings also make it much more likely that water will spill out the front if you tip it a little too far forward.
Material is a Matter of Preference
Plastic and metal can both make lightweight, strong watering cans. In our testing, both plastic and metal watering cans were high-quality and sturdy, keeping their shape and not bending or bulging when filled.
Plastic won’t rust, which is a plus. If you opt for a metal can, check rivets and seams carefully; if there’s going to be a leak, that’s where it will be.
Other Watering Cans We Tested
Bloem JW82PROMO-42 Watering Can
The Bloem is a big, sturdy 2-gallon watering can for watering a lot of plants quickly. The water flow through the removable rose is a heavier, more concentrated, drenching spray compared to other watering cans we tried, so you may want to avoid any seedlings.
The wide wrap-around handle makes it easy to carry this can long distances and to control it while pouring.
The Novelty 30601 Indoor Watering Can is a fine choice for watering medium-sized indoor plants. The wrap-around handle is easy to carry, and the offset opening keeps water from splashing out.
However, water flows out the spout more quickly than other indoor cans, making it harder to precisely water small plants. Plus, the plastic material doesn’t match most decor, but if you have storage space, it could be a nice buy.
If you want to water seedlings, the 2-liter Layboo is your best bet. Out of all the watering cans we tested, the Layboo’s removable rose produced the best spray pattern for young plants—a consistent, focused, fine spray about 6 inches in diameter when poured from hip-height.
Both the rose and the entire front spout can be removed for cleaning, a big advantage if you’re planning on keeping this watering can outside where leaves, bugs, and other detritus can blow in and block the flow.
If you’re not a fan of the Homarden’s copper color, opt for the stainless steel 51-ounce Fasmov for watering your indoor garden. Lightweight with clean modern lines, the Fasmov has a slightly curved spout that’s especially good for watering high hanging plants.
The square handle makes it awkward to hold water at some angles, and the spout is attached above the bottom of the can, requiring repeated rocking to empty. But if you’re planning on leaving this out by your succulent collection, it’s design will blend right into your decor.
The Umbra Stainless-Steel Quench Watering Can is the best-looking modern can we sampled. It’s an excellent display piece.
This small can holds just over a quart of water, and will do a reasonable job of watering houseplants—but the center hole slops out water if you tilt the can too far, and it costs twice as much as our top picks.
This medium-sized green-and-copper can is fine for outdoor watering. Large, rounded handles on top and side make it easy to carry and control.
The problem with this can is water management. Our sample continuously dripped water from a side-rivet attached to the top handle when the can was full, and it's easy to splash water out the front of this can when pouring it. The 1-inch-wide spray from the rose was an oval shape, not round like other cans’ sprays, which makes it harder to predict where the water will go. However, this could also make it ideal for watering long, narrow garden beds.
The Kensington London Indoor Watering Can is a good choice for people who want a thick, easy-to-grip handle to precisely water small indoor plants. It has a large, open top which makes it easy to fill, even at indoor sinks.
But to the same end, it’s also easy to spill. Water can pour out of the top or suddenly spurt out of the spout if you tilt it a little too far forward, making it frustrating to use.
Meg Muckenhoupt is an environmental and travel writer. Her book Boston Gardens and Green Spaces (Union Park Press, 2010) is a Boston Globe Local Bestseller. Meg was awarded a certificate in Field Botany by the New England Wild Flower Society and earned degrees from Harvard and Brown University.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.