Watering Cans

Sprinkling cans aren’t just for watering plants—they also can be used to apply liquid fertilizers and some types of herbicides that are diluted with water. And when not in use, or when worn beyond repair, they can be converted into decorative flower pots.

Cans come in various sizes, shapes, and materials. They are made of plastic and metal (copper, brass, or galvanized steel). Plastic watering cans are used most widely—they are inexpensive, durable, and rust resistant.

Galvanized steel cans have been around for years and are still the favorite of many gardeners. They are durable, rust resistant, and usually more expensive than plastic cans.

Brass and copper watering cans are practical, beautiful—and expensive. However, if kept clean and dry when not in use, they will last a lifetime. They also make especially attractive flower pots. As durable and nearly as decorative as the copper can is the steel can that’s covered with an enameled epoxy coating, usually in a bright color.

Just as important as the can itself is the nozzle, or rose, at the end of the spout. This distributes the water gently and evenly. Roses are generally oval or round and face either up or out. They are made of plastic, brass, or copper and can screw on or clamp on. Some roses have adapters so they will fit on other-size models.

For seedlings, the oval-shape rose that points upward is best. It allows the water to come out in a gentle rain that won’t disturb the soil around seedlings and young plants.

The round rose is for older plants. It points out or slightly down from the spout and puts out a greater volume of water, which suits the hardier older plants. If you need a gentle flow of water for seedlings, use a rose with a rubber bulb attached; it puts out a very fine shower.

A long spout generally makes for good balance. Pick up the can: If it feels well balanced when empty, it probably will also feel that way when it’s full.

Look for a can that has a threaded tip—it can accept different types of roses. Cans that are made with a one-piece spout and rose tend to be cheaper, but, because the holes are less well made, the cans also are less efficient.

Finally, look for reinforcement around areas of stress, such as the can’s bottom, the handle, and the seam between the body and the spout.

Drain watering cans whenever they aren’t in use, and store them upside down. When possible, keep the plastic varieties out of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. If possible, periodically remove the roses to clean them of sediment. Rinse them by running water back through the holes from the front. Use a toothpick to clean out any stubborn particles.