Answer: Different plants grow at different rates, but in my experience most perennials will bloom earlier if you purchase them as small plants rather than starting them from seed. (I am an impatient gardener though.)
If they are provided with optimum growing conditions and a long growing season, some late summer- and fall-blooming perennials started from seed may produce a few flowers the first season. However most perennials need a bit longer to establish roots before they really put on a show. Most are in their glory the second or even third season.
I don't know of any reference book that gives a detailed list of how long it takes for plants to bloom, and I'm not sure such a list even exists, since there are so many factors that affect growth rate.
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