What is a perfect plant? In my imagination, it’s a long-lived perennial that is easy to grow from seed, blooms the first summer, and self sows in moderation. Does this dream plant really exist? Probably not. But some plants come close to the ideal.
Are there any disadvantages to first-year flowering perennials? My only complaint is they are not always long-lived. It seems like the longest-lived plants are the ones that are difficult to start from seed and slow to begin blooming. But if you are willing to give up expectations of long life for your quick-blooming plants, you will get rewards like ease of sowing and reseeding in the garden.
If you want to see early blooms on your plants, you will need to start the seeds indoors 6-10 weeks before the last frost date. Of course, they will not bloom at their “normal” time the first year. For example, lupine usually blooms in May. If you sow the seeds indoors in March, then transplant them outside after the last frost date, you can expect to see the first blooms in late summer or fall. The following spring, the show will be more spectacular.
If you live in a warm zone, or you have good soil and plenty of sun, your plants will bloom sooner. The following plants have done well for me in zone 5.