If you’ve just begun with bonsai you might not think about bonsai watering cans. It would seem natural to think that though the pots and the soil mix are different, surely a watering can for potted plants works just as well on bonsai. I can tell you from experience this isn’t so. For watering your tiny trees and tiny pots on a regular basis you want something with control and a fine, gentle spray that’s hard to find in an inexpensive conventional watering can.
To get that control and fine, gentle spray you’re looking for a few features. The rose or rosette is the piece at the end of the can with holes in it. You want lots of holes. You also want a flat rosette that you can turn up. Last you want a long spout to create good water pressure and control.
Know too that most rosettes are detachable, likely because both the user may want to sometimes use the can without the rose and also because you may want to remove it to clean the can.
The factors that are up to you are plastic or metal, and small or large. Your preferences probably depend largely on if you’re using your can inside or outside and how many trees you have.
Last, even if you generally use a hose attachment for your trees you’re still likely to have or want a decent watering can too. Using a watering can is at times faster and more accurate than watering with the hose, such as when you need to water individual trees that have been set aside for special care.
About the Market Leader: Haws
Haws is the heavyweight in the bonsai watering can niche and has several excellent products. Other makers also do excellent quality cans, including some Japanese models, but they are in the minority. It’s understandable why Haws has marketshare. Haws has been making watering cans since 1886 and they are transparent about both their operational process and the quality control steps they take in craftsmanship. Many of Haws’ high-end cans are hand pieced, and some are guaranteed for ten years.
Plastic doesn’t rust but will crack, especially in extreme weather conditions. Colors on plastic cans left outside can fade. Some Haws watering cans have replacement rosettes available for purchase. Like any other can with a detachable rosette, there is occasional leakage. In fairness Haws gets less leakage complaints than on several other types of cans.
I cannot underscore enough the importance of considering size. The small cans are around a pint. The larger cans go up to at least 2 gallons. (Small cans are indoor, large cans are outdoor). Much of the feedback on cans involves size, deciding what size can is right for you and your trees. Before investing in these high-end watering cans, consider carefully what size works for you. Compare to the can size you already have or an empty gallon milk jug.
The volume comparison is at times a tad irritating. Haws is a British company which uses the metric system, like every other nation on the planet except the United States. However they seem to sell quite a bit with the U.S. As such they slip in some imperial units which makes it inconvenient to compare, say, quarts and liters.
Bosmere V181 Haws Indoor 2-Pint/1-Liter Watering Can with Rose and Gift Box, Copper (about $86) If a watering can could be sexy, this is the one. It’s just a little 1-liter can, with a detachable rose. But made of solid copper (the can is solid copper. The rose and fittings are brass). If you don’t have a lot of copper you should understand the care that’s involved.
Copper develops a darker color and a patina naturally. This is not seen as a defect, but rather as development of the natural character of the item. Much in the way that leather darkens with use. Copper can also get dark spots from water and moisture, which is surely going to happen with a watering can. If you like something with lower maintenance or don’t care for the look of copper with a patina, get galvanized or painted galvanized steel. If you’ve only got or or two bonsai next to the window in your office and want to show off your swanky watering can, look no further. This is it baby.
(Haws V177G Indoor 2-Liter). If you like it painted metal instead you can get it down to a more affordable $55.
If you want budget you can do plastic instead. Here’s the budget model from $15-$20 or so. Understand though that this one is a touch smaller than it’s counterpart. This watering can is made of injection molded plastic instead of hand crafted with galvanized steel. That isn’t inherently bad or good, it’s just a different level of quality.
Haws makes their “professional” outdoor metal watering can line in two different sizes. The 1.2 Gallon / 4.5 Liter pictured and linked above around $110-130 and a 2.3 Gallon/8.8 Liter at around $130-$160 depending on color. As noted, these metal outdoor watering cans are hand assembled and made of steel. That means they won’t crack (but will fade).
Similarly if you’d like the budget model, here’s the Bosmere V100 Haws Deluxe Plastic Watering Can, 1.3-Gallon/5-Liter
This watering can has the same features as it’s steel counterpart, but made out of injection mold plastic. This makes it cheaper but it can crack and the plastic can still sun-fade. Still a very nice watering can, it will need a bit more care than it’s metal counterpart.
There isn’t a ton of competition when you get to the quality bonsai watering can market. But if you really want something different, there are a couple other options. Just as Yagamitsu makes bonsai tools, they also make watering cans. I have no idea how well it functions, and reviews aren’t going to give you much feedback. But if you want a sleek, absolutely Japanese design you might head over to eBay to check out the Yagimitsu can for somewhere around $115-120 or so. Similarly there are several cans that look remarkably like Haws for the $60 range, which is close to what you can pay for a Haws, but I can’t say much for the seller or the ability to return the product.
Undoubtedly $100 or more is considerably more money than I ever thought I’d spend on a watering can. Though I am as frugal as they come, I’ve shelled out for a real bonsai watering can. I felt justified in calling it a need after trying several other watering cans which I threw out in disgust.
Overall, the options for high end watering cans are limited. But if you’ve grown dissatisfied with shoddy cans sloshing your soil mix out of your pots, a high-end watering can is a worthy investment. For your next bonsai product splurge, or a gift for your favorite bonsai nut, consider picking up a watering can. They’ll thank you for it.