The Rubbermaid watering can: discontinued but not forgotten

– Posted in: Tools and Equipment
23 comments

Recently someone asked me to recommend a watering can. We have been using this Rubbermaid watering can for over a decade. What I like about it:

  • Holds 2 gallons (7.5 liters). Less trips to the rain barrel but not so heavy when full as to be unmanageable
  • It’s easy to fill, not just from a hose, but from another bucket if necessary.
  • Clearly marked, so when you mix fertilizer in it, you know how much water you’re adding
  • The rose (sprinkler end) is removable, so you can clean it. It screws on, so doesn’t pop off unexpectedly
  • It’s designed well, so that when you tip it, a nice shower comes out–and it’s easy to tip. (It’s too strong for seedlings, but great for established plants)
  • It’s durable. The Purdyville gardeners are accustomed to tossing the empty watering can in the general vicinity of the hose when they are done with it. It takes such abuse without complaint.
  • It’s inexpensive. You don’t have to worry about losing it or abusing it.

That last item was true until I discovered they don’t make them anymore. This last fact was uncovered several years ago, when the rose went missing. “I’ll just buy another,” I said to myself. I went back to the hardware store where I first bought it, and they didn’t have it. I tried every hardware store in town: no luck. I finally emailed the Rubbermaid company, and was told they don’t make it anymore.

Suddenly my humble watering can had become very precious. And pretty useless, seeing as it didn’t have the rose. We eventually found the rose at the bottom of the rain barrel, and all was well. And I gained a new appreciation for the Rubbermaid watering can.

Why did they stop making it? It was perfect for what it was designed for. Now all that’s available in the inexpensive but durable segment of this market are cans similar to this or this. Neither of them is as well designed, though the second one comes close. It doesn’t have as generous a filling hole, however.

Well, if any Rubbermaid executives google their brand name and find themselves here, I humbly request that you reinstate this in your product line. And if any of you readers come across this at a garage sale, buy it for yourself. And if you don’t want it, buy it for me. I will reimburse you for the cost of the watering can and shipping.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

23 Comments… add one

Leon September 30, 2013, 5:43 pm

My mom has a Rubbermaid 3142 which I can not find anyplace that she loves and has had a long time it is nice because it hold 1 and 3/4 quarts. She is 93 yrs old and she can handle it well. I have tried a dozen watering cans and she doesn’t like any of them as much.

John May 6, 2013, 1:38 pm

Lost the floret from the end of my Rubbermaid and had the same disappointment when I went to replace it. Add my name to the list of gardeners looking for a good, solid inexpensive watering can.

Gene July 27, 2011, 1:32 pm

I have the watering can discussed here, perfect condition, and I’m willing to sell it for a reasonable price. Frankly, I don’t care for it because of the balance. It works well only when about half-full. Respond to genepoll@yahoo.com, or 425-888-4095.

becky July 23, 2011, 11:26 am

Hey I have this one!I agree w/all your reasons that it is a great watering can.If I could find more,Id buy all my garden friends one as well as my husband and kids one.Mine has watered many a garden and taken a beating and still looks good.The threads on the spout dont seem to wear out and the gage of the plastic will keep it from holes wearing through the bottom.Glad My favorite is someone elses as well.Too bad when a good design comes along it cant become a standard.Although the price would have increased over the many years since I bought mine,I think it would be worth the increase in price.Thanks for sharing.

kim July 5, 2011, 12:27 pm

OH NO!!! I was afraid that this had happened. I’ve had my Rubbermaid can for many years and I love it. I bought 2 others last summer, but they are NOT user friendly. After wrestling with one of them the other day, I thought I just go buy a couple more of Rubbermaid water-cans. And now to find out, they are no more. Surely the Rubbermaid company will hear our cries…..PPLLEEAASSEEEEE

Gene Gaumer August 22, 2010, 6:21 pm

Thanks for the sad information of the discontinued watering can. Rubbermaid products fill my home and my favorite is my 15-year old one (1) gallon water can, Model 3144cav4. It is currently held together with duct tape. This can is prefect for fragile container plants.

Thanks again,
Gene

Marvin May 23, 2010, 9:24 am

I could not agree more about the rubbermaid watering can. I too, have had mine for years and was just trying to buy another one when I came across your site. I am SO BUMMED they discontinued it. I cant find a decent one anywhere. I think it’s time to badger the folks at rubbermaid to start making them again. The only other good one is the one from Duraco garden products, but it falls short of the rubbermaid. Thanks for the heads up. Marv

Vijay November 7, 2009, 6:03 pm

I thought I was the only one going crazy trying to find more of my favorite watering cans. I have two and I will cherish them. Has anyone found something close to it with that similar wide opening on top?

azurienne July 24, 2008, 3:13 am

I was rather amused by this watering can problem. I’m an American, gardening in France the past 18 years. They have a very common big plastic watering can that I just take for granted. I just came across an ad for a French watering can and just had to see what it was. Turns out to be something for $25 that looks like what I can get here for about $5 (haven’t priced them in years, they last forever). LOL

I’m so sorry you have such a hard time finding something decent. I keep getting amused at all the “French” or “European” tags on a lot of American decorations. I didn’t realize how much of my everyday items are considered exotic back home. It works both ways, tho. Their open kitchens and side by side refrigerators are called “American.”

Thanks for your article. I enjoyed it.

Bob B. July 13, 2008, 8:08 pm

Kathy,

You’ve solved my Rubbermaid watering can question. Anyone wanting to sell theirs let me know. Thanks.

paula June 25, 2008, 5:09 pm

Hear hear! Mine is over ten years old. I wish I could get another one

commonweeder June 25, 2008, 2:06 pm

Kathy,
It is impossible to understand why companies stop making good functional items – and keep making things (SUVs?) that are not functional, or even in great demand. At least a lot of people are now looking for this wonderful watering can for you and for themselves.

KathyG June 23, 2008, 10:36 pm

I also have this exact same watering can, and have been searching for a few years to find another one as well made and useful as this one. So far, no luck. Hopefully mine will last for a long time yet.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter June 23, 2008, 5:45 pm

I hate when companies stop manufacturing my favorite products. It seems to happen more & more. I’d love a watering can like that, but until someone starts making it again, I’m stuck with my metal one w/ the rose that won’t come off.

jenn June 23, 2008, 3:24 pm

Cynical Jenn says that they no longer make it exactly for all the reasons you state, esp. the longetivity.

They want a product that people will be compelled to replace each year. Isn’t that how our economy works?

If I still have mine when yours bellies up, drop me a line. I rarely use mine.

Robin June 23, 2008, 2:08 pm

I have this same Rubbermaid watering can and it is my favorite. I’ll certainly continue to take good care of it now. It’s in great condition because I usually keep it inside or in the garage.

dee/reddirtramblings June 22, 2008, 4:00 pm

Kathy, I have that same watering can. I’ll take better care of it. My mom bought it for me some years ago. At the time, I snobbishly thought I wanted a fancy Haws metal one. Later, I saw the great design features of the can, along with the fact that it is plastic. Not so heavy, and you can leave it outside, and it won’t rust.~~Dee

Gail June 22, 2008, 2:49 pm

You’ve reminded me that I do need some reliable watering cans…the present ones are terribly awkward and hard to fill…and your readers have given me some directions to head!

gail

Cindy June 22, 2008, 2:10 pm

Kathy, I hope this watering can will be with you for many years to come! I’ll be on the watch for any like it, though.

tedb June 22, 2008, 11:16 am

I went on a watering can shopping trip for a friend this spring and ended up disappointed. I have a nice sturdy galvanized metal can that is built on the same desisn as yours, but without measuring lines. I love being able to dunk it to fill quickly and how easy the curved handle is to use. My rose is knocking around in the barn but I never use it.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens June 22, 2008, 9:44 am

Sounds like it has many advantages over mine. (The rose always popping off and it is hard to fill from another bucket .)

Maybe the internet can spark a revolution in customer relations. Even if Rubbermaid is basically kaput, other companies can find out what gardeners are looking for in a watering can and respond with the perfect solution.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens June 22, 2008, 7:52 am

The quest for the perfect watering can! Does it ever end?

You should read the story of Rubbermaid and how they tangled with Walmart, and lost. I think only the brand still exist, not the company that made this good watering can. I’ll have to look it up myself to make sure my facts are straight…

If I see one someplace, I sure will buy it for you!

Lois June 22, 2008, 12:52 am

Hello Kathy,

I’ve enjoyed your blog and your comments today about a good watering can. A couple years ago I found a big blue one which works wonderfully well for me. It’s from Gardener’s Supply Company (http://www.gardeners.com) and it’s called a French Watering Can. It holds 3 gallons, is comfortable to carry, and the rose slips off and on easily. It’s become a reliable friend. It costs $25.00. However, it does not have markings such as those on your Rubbermaid watering can.

Lois, Columbus, Zone 5
P.S. My favorite tool is a family heirloom spade. Someday it will go to the nursing home with me. But I’ve yet to find a good grass shear. Someday. Someday.

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