Watering can

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Assorted watering cans made of metal

A watering can (or watering pot) is a portable container, usually with a handle and a funnel, used to water plants by hand. It has been in use since at least 79 A.D. and has since seen many improvements in design. Apart from watering plants, it has varied uses, as it is a fairly versatile tool.

The capacity of the container can be anywhere from 0.5 litres (for indoor household plants) to 10 litres (for general garden use). It is usually made of metal, ceramic or plastic. At the end of the spout, a "rose" (a device, like a cap, with small holes) can be placed to break up the stream of water into droplets, to avoid excessive water pressure on the soil or on delicate plants.

Water pot, excavated at Villa of the Papyri, ca. 79AD.


The term "watering can" first appeared in the 1000s.[1] Earlier, it had been known as a "watering pot".

In 1886 the "Haws" watering can was patented by John Haws. The patent read "This new invention forms a watering pot that is much easier to carry and tip, and at the same time being much cleaner, and more adapted for use than any other put before the public."[2]

Modern uses[edit]

Watering cans are used by gardeners for watering plants, by road workers to apply bitumen to asphalt, as ornaments, and regularly in symbolic art pieces.

In popular culture[edit]

  • On her website, Martha Stewart suggests using watering cans to shower the feet after working and getting dirty.[3]
  • Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted a work entitled A Girl with a Watering Can.[4]
  • John Cleese, in a 1963 Cambridge University Footlights Review ("Cambridge Circus") sketch "Judge Not", described a watering can as: "a large, cylindrical, tin-plated vessel with a perforated pouring piece, much used by the lower classes for the purpose of artificially moistening the surface soil".



  1. ^ First appearance of "Watering-can" — Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ "130 Years of Haws". Haws Elliott Ltd. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  3. ^ Watering-Can Shower
  4. ^ A Girl with a Watering Can

Media related to Watering can at Wikimedia Commons