Bioretention cells are a type of low-impact development technology that, over the past two decades, have become a critical component of urban stormwater management. Research into bioretention has since proliferated, with disparate aims, intents and metrics used to assess the “performance” of bioretention cells. We conducted a comprehensive, systematic scoping review to answer the question of “How is the field performance of bioretention assessed in the literature?”, with the aim of understanding (1) how is the performance of bioretention defined in the literature? (2) what metrics are used to assess actual and theoretical performance? A review of 320 studies (mostly peer reviewed articles) found that performance was defined in terms of hydrologic controls, while investigations into water quality pathways and mechanisms of contaminant transport and fate and the role of vegetation were lacking; additionally, long term field and continuous modelling studies were limited. Bioretention field research was primarily conducted by a small number of institutions (26 institutions were responsible for 50% of the research) located mainly in high income countries, particularly Australia and the United States. We recommend that the research community (I) provide all original data when reporting results, (II) prioritize investigating the processes that determine bioretention performance and (III) standardize the collection, analysis and reporting of results. This dissemination of information will ensure that gaps in bioretention knowledge can be found and allow for improvements to the performance of bioretention cells around the world.