Plants that have weak, leggy growth or sparsely spaced leaves produce new vigorous growth if cut back hard to a healthy bud or leaf node. (This means that cut back that tall thin Chamaedorea and it will push up new growth from the base. This also means you should cut back those old leafless pothos vines all the way to the rim of the pot and you will renew your plant. Within a few weeks lush, beautifully green, new leaves will appear and over time the plant will be bushy and full again. If you combine this with a bit of new topsoil the growth will amaze you.
The appearance of many interiorscape plants can be greatly improved by pinching them back from time to time. Pinch back that Podocarpus to keep a cylindrical shape. Use your scissors to trim back a tall branch poking out on the Arboricola so the plant makes an even, circular ball shape. You can even strip the bottom leaves off that cutting and poke it down 6 inches into the soil to fill in a bare spot. In almost every case these cuttings root. A Ficus that is touching the ceiling is too tall. Cut it back to make it fit the space. A good cut will be hidden from the client so they don’t see a butchered plant.
A general rule of thumb for vines is to pinch back (or cut all the way back to the pot) any time a vine starts to wander across that tabletop. The goal is to keep a compact ball-shaped plant. No extra credit points will be given for the longest single vine.