Recently, a reader reached out to me about a problem with their Hatch peppers:
“Hello, my name is Ino and I’m in zone 10 south Florida. I have a question about Hatch peppers. They grow well but not very big…3 to 4 inches max. I have a 5 gal plastic pot, single plant, first season. Plant is healthy and constantly producing blooms and peppers. Why are my hatch peppers so small?"
The first place I start when troubleshooting any kind of plant is soil. Is this fresh potting soil? If it’s older soil, or soil that is sandy, it may lack the proper nutrients the plant needs. Most garden supply stores have plant food for vegetables. But if this is fresh potting soil, I would suggest avoiding adding additional plant food. You may burn the leaves by adding too much fertilizer.
Another area of concern may be your climate. Hatch peppers thrive in New Mexico, which has an arid desert climate. So, while it gets pretty hot there, it’s also very dry. Summer in Florida is very humid, and this may be affecting the chillies. If possible, you might want to experiment putting the peppers next to a fan. This might keep the air around the plant drier, simulating the climate Hatch peppers prefer.
It might also be that some pepper plants just don’t prefer 5-gallon pots. Whenever I’ve tried to grow bell peppers in 5-gallon buckets, they always end up small. The roots of most pepper plants like to grow deep but also wide. Hatch peppers may be predisposed to a wider root system. If possible, I would try re-planting the peppers in a wider pot, and see if that improves the length of the chillies.
Best of luck Ino! I was in Albuquerque this past spring and had lots of delicious Hatch chile dishes. I hope you get to enjoy some soon!