The Russian Emil Bretschneider collected hydrangea seed near Peking. Separating the resulting species from each other is difficult, but this variety has a chestnut brown trunk which increasingly peels as the plant matures, and the undersides of the leaves are felted; the combination of these characteristics is perhaps the best way of recognising it.
The white inflorescences are flat and decorative, the sterile outer ring turning reddish as they age. At Mustila this variety grows on the Terassi (Terrace), the shrubs forming a beautiful arch over the path. It flowers earlier than many hydrangeas.
Hydrangea bretschneideri is generally considered extremely hardy, and the dark brown bark is attractive throughout the year.