One of the most essential gardening tools is the humble watering can. All plants need to be watered, fed and well-cared for. Despite their relative simplicity, watering cans vary from model to model and the right can depends on what and where you are planning to water.
For more watering tools, see our reviews of the 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.
Below, we explain what to look out for and share a list of some of the best watering can options to choose from.
- What to look for in a watering can
- How to water effectively
- Outdoor watering cans
- Indoor watering cans
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.
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 – a capacity of around four litres should be enough.
For tropical house 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.
Whichever type you need, indoor watering cans are more likely to be on show than those used in the garden and so 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.
There are also 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 useful for watering seedlings and 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.
Different plants have different needs. A good general rule when watering in flower beds and vegetable patches is to water right at the base of stems. This can be a little easier with a garden hose and a good garden spray gun. Close watering like this will ensure your plants get as much water as they need. 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.
With house plants, most should be watered at the stems. 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. Most house plants are tropical, and don’t need too much water. Air plants in particular only need a light misting. Not only will this keep your plants healthy, but it will help you conserve water, which is increasingly important as the climate changes.
For more on this, check out this fascinating discussion between Arit Anderson and water expert Janet Manning on the BBC Gardeners’ World podcast.
17 of the best watering cans and misters in 2022
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, so it’s easy to switch between sprinkling plants and a full flow.
Buy the Ward 10L Watering Can from Argos
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.
Buy the Garden Trading 10L Galvanised Watering Can from Garden Trading
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 restore products more than fifty years old. This model holds up to two gallons, or 9L in new money.
Buy the Bearwood Brook Green Two Gallon Watering Can from Amazon
Elho Recycled Living 10L Black Watering Can
If you want the benefits of a plastic watering can – lightweight, cheap, simple – but worry about the environmental impacts, check out this watering can from Elho. Made of recycled plastic, this can holds up to 10L.
Buy the Elho Recycled Living 10L Black Watering Can from Dobies
Kent & Stowe 9L Long Reach Watering Can
If you struggle to water at 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 to water all of your plants evenly, without treading on your flower beds or veg patch.
Buy the Kent & Stowe 9L Long Reach Watering Can from UK Tool Centre
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.
Buy the Burgon and Ball Waterfall 5L Watering Can from Burgon and Ball
Kent And Stowe 4.5L Metal Watering Can
This 4.5L watering can from Kent and Stowe is just right for country-style gardens. If you forget to store it away after use, this attractive cream can will still look great on a patio.
Buy the Kent and Stowe 4.5L Metal Watering Can from Amazon
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.
Buy the Garden Trading 1.9L Indoor Watering Can from Garden Trading
Elho Brussels 1.8L Watering Can
Made from recycled plastic, the Elho Brussels can has a great 1.8L capacity. Its small spout is great for targeted watering, and it has a large filling hole too, so it’s easy to fill up from kitchen and bathroom taps.
Buy the Elho Brussels 1.8L Watering Can from Amazon
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.
Buy the Haws Indoor Plastic 700ml Watering Can from Amazon
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.
Buy the Burgon and Ball 700ml Indoor Watering Can from Burgon and Ball
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.
Buy the Ward Woodstock 1L Indoor Watering Can from Amazon
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.
Buy the Elho Plunge 1.7L Indoor Watering Can from Amazon
Ziuheoa Plant Mister
The pattern on this mister gives it a vintage, almost Edwardian feel. The bottle is glass and the mister pump is plastic, offering quality while keeping it affordable, and it’s available in seven colours.
Buy the Ziuheoa Plant Mister from Amazon
Dunelm Ceramic Black and White Plant Mister
This simple, black-and-white, ceramic plant mister will look fantastic in contemporary homes. With a generous capacity, it’s ideal if you’ve got lots of tropical house plants.
Buy the Dunelm Ceramic Black and White Plant Mister from Dunelm
Haws Mist Sprayer 300ml
This attractive brass mister is handmade in Smethwick in the West Midlands. It looks great on a shelf, and, if you’re giving it as a gift, it can be engraved with your choice of text for an extra five pounds.
Buy the Haws Mist Sprayer 300ml from Farrar and Tanner
Patch Plants has given the humble mister an intriguing redesign. This mister is designed to spray as light a mist as possible to prevent plants from becoming waterlogged. It has a hand trigger rather than a button, and a silicone base to prevent the glass bottom from scratching surfaces.
Buy the Patch Mister from Patch Plants
This product guide was las updated in July 2022. We apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.