Metal vs Plastic Watering Cans

Watering cans, or watering pots as some refer to them, are a bucket with a spout on one side and a handle on the other or at the top. Fill the can with water and tip it so that the water runs out the spout which is usually directed towards a small area, sometimes one pot or plant. Some watering cans have sieves at the end of the spout that waters the plant like a rain shower. They come is several different kinds of metals as well as plastic. Which kind is the best, metal versus plastic watering cans, depends on the usage.

Galvanized steel with the silver looking finish is the classic watering can and perhaps the most popular for outdoor use. It has an ‘old world’ look almost like a garden decoration when not in use and is very strong. It will not rust if left in the rain, however, highly alkaline soil will rust galvanized steel. This is a good can for decorative painting as a craft activity. It comes with large or small buckets for indoors or outdoors but this is the best can for watering large flower beds or herbal gardens outdoors where the water should be rightly directed but needs to cover many plants. In the metal versus plastic watering cans debate, galvanized steel wins for outdoor garden watering.

There are also stainless steel, tin, brass and copper watering cans. Tin watering cans are usually painted with flowers to look vintage or ethnic and some are so well designed and artistic that they are used as flower pots for growing small plants. Some metal cans are made in the shape of animals such as turtles and frogs and some are made to look antique and not recommended for actual watering, only for ornamentation. They resemble Arabic coffee pots or look like pot-bellied pigs and if ornamentation is the goal for metal versus plastic watering cans, it’s a tie.

Plastic watering cans often have a more modern look with long sleek spouts suitable for watering one pot at a time without spilling water on the table or carpet. There are also plastic watering cans for outdoors that are very efficient with sprinkler spouts and large bodies to hold up to two gallons of water. They do not have the cache for decoration that metal watering cans have but they are also quite a bit cheaper. A metal can will remain in your garden no matter what the weather, but a plastic can could blow away with a strong wind. Since they are cheaper, they are easier to replace. On the cost side of metal versus plastic watering cans, plastic wins.

Plastic cans also come in the shape of animals such as an elephant but the best advantage of a plastic can is the sleek shape that looks good on a shelf or table in a garden or even in a kitchen. Plastic won’t scratch wooden tables and comes in a huge variety of decorator colors to match any room. There are small metal watering cans with a focused spout made for indoors, but in the metal versus plastic category for indoor plant watering, plastic wins again.

Both metal and plastic watering cans are suitable for all kinds of plants. For seedlings, small holes in the spout are better to give a gentle sprinkle that won’t damage the small plants. For hanging baskets of plants a small, light can is best with a curved spout that will deposit the water in the pot and not on you because you may have to lift it above your head. For these applications, the metal versus plastic watering cans debate ends in a tie. Whether metal or plastic, watering cans are very charming tools that remind us of days gone by when there was no central sprinkler system on a timer and each flower or herb was watered and cared for individually. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, we participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links.