Dendrites lengthen by several orders of magnitude during neuronal development, but how membrane is allocated in dendrites to facilitate this growth remains unclear. Here, we report that Ras opposite (Rop), the Drosophila ortholog of the key exocytosis regulator Munc18-1 (also known as STXBP1), is an essential factor mediating dendrite growth. Neurons with depleted Rop function exhibit reduced terminal dendrite outgrowth followed by primary dendrite degeneration, suggestive of differential requirements for exocytosis in the growth and maintenance of different dendritic compartments. Rop promotes dendrite growth together with the exocyst, an octameric protein complex involved in tethering vesicles to the plasma membrane, with Rop-exocyst complexes and exocytosis predominating in primary dendrites over terminal dendrites. By contrast, membrane-associated proteins readily diffuse from primary dendrites into terminals, but not in the reverse direction, suggesting that diffusion, rather than targeted exocytosis, supplies membranous material for terminal dendritic growth, revealing key differences in the distribution of materials to these expanding dendritic compartments.