Drosophila Decapentaplegic (Dpp) has served as a paradigm to study morphogen-dependent growth control. However, the role of a Dpp gradient in tissue growth remains highly controversial. Two fundamentally different models have been proposed: the 'temporal rule' model suggests that all cells of the wing imaginal disc divide upon a 50% increase in Dpp signalling, whereas the 'growth equalization model' suggests that Dpp is only essential for proliferation control of the central cells. Here, to discriminate between these two models, we generated and used morphotrap, a membrane-tethered anti-green fluorescent protein (GFP) nanobody, which enables immobilization of enhanced (e) GFP::Dpp on the cell surface, thereby abolishing Dpp gradient formation. We find that in the absence of Dpp spreading, wing disc patterning is lost; however, lateral cells still divide at normal rates. These data are consistent with the growth equalization model, but do not fit a global temporal rule model in the wing imaginal disc.